Family Systems Therapy

What is the Family Systems Therapy

Family systems theory is a theory of human behavior that was introduced by Dr. Murray Bowen suggesting that individuals in a family can never be understood when considered apart from each other but that instead, the whole family should be thought of as one emotional unit.

He also states that a family is defined not only by the people making it up but also by their interaction with each other to create their unique family dynamic.

Family systems therapy is a branch of psychotherapy that helps solve individual people’s problems in the context of their family units as that is where many issues are likely to spring from. In this type of therapy, each member of the family works together with the others so that they can better understand their family dynamic and how each of their actions as individuals affects the rest of the family members individually and the family as a whole.

An important premise of this therapy model is that whatever happens to one of the family members happens to everyone in the family. Systems-thinking looks at the parts of a system in relation to the whole and when it is applied to families, it suggests that behavior is not only inseparable from the function of the family of origin, but that it’s informed by it.

Whenever families are experiencing conflict within the unit, seeking professional help to address those issues is advisable, and a family systems therapy approach may be the ideal solution.

Who Can Benefit From This Type of Therapy?

Families in conflict, couples, and individuals with problems related to their families of origin can all benefit from family systems therapy. Although most people’s psychological issues start early in life, stemming from relationships within their family of origin or the one they grew up in, these issues usually don’t surface until much later on in life.

Family systems treatment can be helpful for a host of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and addiction. It is also effective in the treatment of behavioral and even physical health concerns and has been shown to assist individuals and family members in controlling and coping with physical disabilities and disorders.

Generally speaking, this is considered an effective approach for any concerns that seem to manifest within or relate to the family of origin.

How Family Systems Therapy Works

During therapy, the family works together to resolve a problem that affects one or more members directly. They do this both individually and as a unit. Each person has the chance to express what they are thinking or feeling about the way the problem affects them, and the family works together to help the particular member in trouble which ultimately relieves the stress on the family.

There are a number of different exercises that can be utilized, including one where the family members examine each of the roles they play in the family (and if necessary, they even switch roles) in an effort to learn how to better support and help each other. The goal here is to restore family relationships and rebuild a healthier family system.

Choosing the Best Family Systems Therapist

Look for a licensed mental health professional with experience and a background in family systems. The therapist you choose should have a firm understanding of the dysfunctional family systems such as communication problems and power struggles.

In addition to the right educational background and relevant experience, the person you choose to conduct your family systems therapy should be someone with whom everyone in your family unit feels comfortable sharing personal and family issues with.

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