THE CONTEXT OF RELATIONSHIPS AND FAMILY
Systemic Family Therapy, also known as Couple or Family Therapy, is a means of intervention that attempts to understand and address human beings’ pain and distress within the context in which it occurs i.e. the family or relationship environment.
This therapeutic approach does not isolate an individual patient, but rather it takes account of the family as an organic whole, whatever form that family group might take.
Clients are facilitated to make sense of their lives and difficulties in the context of their family formation and functioning.
Family therapy aims to enhance communication between family members and to cultivate the independence of the individual within the family. It also helps to avoid apportioning blame.
FOCUS ON THE HERE AND NOW
The primary focus is on the present rather than the past and the objective is to promote action towards change so that the distress of the family can be alleviated.
Family therapy may involve entire families with parents and their young or adult children. It may also involve just some members of a family or couples.
HOW WE MAKE SENSE OF OUR LIFE
This form of psychotherapy understands that emotional, psychological and interpersonal problems arise within the context of how people experience their lives – how they make sense of reality and in their patterns of social engagement and exchange.
The therapist and client together seek to understand both how these patterns arise and how they are maintained; they do this through discussion, reflection and exploration in session and between sessions.
There may be more than one client involved in this process. This usually provides other options in making sense of one’s situation and generates greater choice in how to respond and relate.
In focusing on the wider system, Family Therapy is well placed to work with families in difficulty, particularly young children and adolescents.
Systemic processes point to the fact that children’s difficulties are, whenever possible, best addressed in the context of the family.
Systemic Family Therapy also facilitates the family’s understanding of any local factors that may impact on their difficulties, for example, issues associated with areas of deprivation such as poverty and drugs.