Family Therapy

What is Family Therapy?

Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on improving communication and resolving conflicts within families. It is based on the idea that family members are interconnected and that problems affecting one member can have an impact on the entire family.

Sessions are typically conducted with all family members present, although individual sessions may also be conducted as needed. The therapist helps family members identify patterns of behavior and communication that may be contributing to problems, and works with them to develop new strategies for resolving conflicts and improving relationships.

Family therapy can be used to address a wide range of issues, including relationship problems, parenting difficulties, behavioral problems in children and adolescents, mental health disorders, and addiction. The goals of family therapy may vary depending on the specific needs of the family, but typically involve improving communication, reducing conflict, increasing understanding and empathy, and strengthening the family unit.

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How does Family Therapy work?

Family therapy works by addressing the relational patterns and dynamics within a family system that may be contributing to individual and/or collective distress. By involving all family members, family therapy can help individuals and families understand how their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by others in their family and can help them develop more effective communication and problem-solving skills.

One of the key principles of family therapy is that problems are viewed as being maintained by the interactions and communication patterns of the entire family, rather than being the result of any one individual's behavior. Family therapy works by identifying these patterns and helping family members change them to promote healthier and more adaptive ways of relating to one another.

Family therapy can also be effective because it provides a safe and supportive space for families to work through their problems together. By involving all family members, family therapy helps ensure that everyone's concerns and perspectives are heard and validated, which can lead to increased trust and understanding within the family.

In addition, family therapy can help families build stronger relationships by teaching them skills such as active listening, effective communication, and problem-solving. By improving these skills, family members can better understand and support each other, leading to greater cohesion and resilience within the family unit.

What does a Family Therapy session look like?

A family therapy session typically involves all family members attending the session together, although individual sessions may also be scheduled. The sessions are usually led by a licensed family therapist or other mental health professional who will guide the family through the therapeutic process.

The specific structure and format of a family therapy session may vary depending on the therapist's approach and the needs of the family, but here is a general outline of what a family therapy session may look like:

  1. Setting goals: At the beginning of the session, the therapist will work with the family to identify their goals for therapy and discuss what they hope to achieve. The therapist will also check on any homework assigned in the last session.
  2. Exploring the problem: The therapist will then encourage the family to talk about the issue or problem that brought them to therapy. The therapist will ask questions and facilitate discussion to gain a better understanding of the family's dynamics and how they are contributing to the problem.
  3. Developing insights and solutions: The therapist will help the family develop insights into their patterns of communication and behavior and identify ways to make positive changes. The therapist may suggest specific interventions or exercises to help the family achieve their goals.
  4. Practice and implementation: The family will then have the opportunity to practice the new skills they have learned and work on implementing the solutions they have developed.
  5. Review and reflection: At the end of the session, the therapist will review what has been discussed and ask for feedback from each family member. The therapist may also assign homework or suggest follow-up sessions as needed.

Overall, the goal of a family therapy session is to help family members improve their communication, strengthen their relationships, and work towards positive change.

What if my session involves yelling and fighting?

It is not uncommon for family therapy sessions to involve high emotions, including yelling, fighting, or heated discussions. In fact, this is often a natural part of the therapy process, as families may need to confront difficult issues and confrontations may arise as a result.

A skilled family therapist is trained to manage and de-escalate these situations and create a safe and supportive space for all family members. The therapist will work to ensure that everyone's voice is heard and that the conversation stays focused on the issues at hand. The therapist may also provide techniques to help family members manage their emotions, such as deep breathing, taking a break, or using mindfulness techniques.

It is important to remember that while therapy can be challenging at times, it is ultimately a positive and healing process. The goal of family therapy is to improve communication, reduce conflict, and strengthen relationships, and this may require some difficult conversations along the way. If you are feeling overwhelmed or uncomfortable during a session, it is important to communicate this to the therapist so that they can help you manage your emotions and stay focused on the therapy goals.

How do you know if Family Therapy is working?

Knowing if family therapy is working or not can be difficult to gauge, as progress and success can be measured in a variety of ways. Here are some signs that family therapy may be working:

  • Improved communication: One of the main goals of family therapy is to improve communication among family members. If family members are better able to express their thoughts and feelings in a constructive manner, listen actively to others, and work collaboratively to solve problems, this is a sign that therapy is having a positive effect.
  • Reduced conflict: Family therapy may help reduce conflict by identifying and addressing the underlying issues that contribute to disagreements and tension within the family. If family members are able to resolve conflicts more effectively and peacefully, this is a sign of progress.
  • Greater understanding: Family therapy can help family members develop a greater understanding of each other's perspectives and experiences. If family members are able to empathize with each other and develop a deeper sense of connection and trust, this may be a sign that therapy is working.
  • Positive changes in behavior: If family members are able to make positive changes in their behavior, such as setting boundaries, taking responsibility for their actions, or practicing healthier communication habits, this may be a sign that therapy is having a positive impact.
  • Improved mental health: Family therapy can be effective in treating a variety of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, and addiction. If family members are experiencing improvements in their mental health and well-being, this may be a sign that therapy is working.

It is important to keep in mind that progress in family therapy can take time, and setbacks may occur along the way. A skilled family therapist can help you track your progress and make adjustments to your treatment plan as needed to ensure that therapy is effective and beneficial.

Who is Family Therapy for?

Family therapy is for anyone who wants to improve their relationships and communication within their family, regardless of their age, background, or specific circumstances. Family therapy can be helpful for families dealing with a wide range of issues, including:

  • Communication problems: If family members are having difficulty expressing their thoughts and feelings, actively listening to each other, or resolving conflicts, family therapy can be an effective way to improve communication and promote healthier relationships.
  • Behavioral problems: Family therapy can be helpful for families dealing with behavior issues in children or adolescents, such as aggression, defiance, or substance abuse. Family therapy can help identify the root causes of these behaviors and develop strategies for managing them.
  • Life transitions: Family therapy can be beneficial during times of transition, such as divorce, remarriage, or the birth of a new child. Therapy can help families navigate these changes and build stronger relationships in the process.

Mental health issues: Family therapy can be effective in treating a variety of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, or addiction. Therapy can help families better understand and support each other's mental health needs.

What are the downfalls of Family Therapy?

While family therapy can be highly effective in addressing a wide range of issues, there are some potential downfalls to consider:

  1. Resistance to therapy: Family members may be resistant to attending therapy or may not fully engage in the process, which can limit the effectiveness of the therapy.
  2. Unequal participation: In some cases, certain family members may dominate the conversation during therapy sessions, while others may remain quiet or unengaged.
  3. Ineffective therapist: If the therapist is not skilled in family therapy or is not a good fit for the family, the therapy may not be effective.
  4. Difficulty in scheduling: It may be challenging for busy families to find time to attend therapy sessions regularly, which can limit the effectiveness of the therapy.
  5. Emotional strain: Family therapy may bring up difficult emotions and conflicts, which can be challenging for some family members to manage and may even lead to temporary increases in conflict or tension.

While there are potential downsides to family therapy, these can be minimized by working with a skilled therapist, maintaining a commitment to the process, and being open to the potential challenges that may arise.


If you have a troubled teenage daughter or your family is struggling with communication, conflicts, or other challenges, we invite you to contact Havenwood Academy today. Our experienced and compassionate team of therapists and counselors is dedicated to helping families heal and grow together through family therapy and other evidence-based treatments.

At Havenwood Academy, we believe that every family has the potential for growth and positive change, no matter how challenging their situation may seem. We offer a safe and supportive environment for families to explore their issues, learn new communication and problem-solving skills, and build stronger relationships.


Jiménez, L., Hidalgo, V., Baena, S., León, A., & Lorence, B. (2019, April 8). Effectiveness of structural⁻strategic family therapy in the treatment of adolescents with mental health problems and their families. International journal of environmental research and public health. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from

Varghese, M., Kirpekar, V., & Loganathan, S. (2020, January). Family interventions: Basic principles and Techniques. Indian journal of psychiatry. Retrieved February 23, 2023, from