Family Therapy: Forget The Blame Game And Solve Conflicts Together

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>>What is Family Therapy? >>How does Family Therapy work? >>Structural Therapy. >>Strategic Therapy. >>Narrative Therapy. >>Transgeneration Therapy. >>Communication Therapy. >>Reframing. >>Pyschoeducation. >>Relationship Counselling.


Presentation Transcript

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Family Therapy: Forget The Blame Game And Solve Conflicts Together

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Table of Contents  What is Family Therapy  How does Family Therapy work  Structural Therapy.  Strategic Therapy.  Narrative Therapy.  Transgeneration Therapy.  Communication Therapy.  Reframing.  Pyschoeducation.  Relationship Counselling.  Conclusion.

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What is Family Therapy Family Therapy is a special type of psychological counselling usually termed psychotherapy. The objective of the therapy is to help family members or close relatives resolve conflicts through improved communication and understanding. Where Family Therapy differs from other forms of counselling is that it has a focus on resolving issues at the family unit level. Therefore Family Therapy addresses the behaviour of every member of the family and how it affects the behaviour of individuals and the relationships between family members. As a result family therapy will often be a combination of individual and group therapy sessions led by a trained Psychologist or licensed therapist such as a trained social worker. The therapy is designed to be short term and is most effective if all family members participate but in some cases that may not be possible. However the goal is to teach those that do participate how to better communicate and understand how the behaviour of individuals can adversely affect the behaviour of others in the family unit.

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How does Family Therapy work Because Family Therapy addresses communication and promotes understanding at the family level rather than focusing on the behaviour of a particular individual it is effective in resolving conflicts arising from a multitude of causes. For example Family Therapy is successful in providing the skills to enable a family to deal with the stress anger and conflict that arises from conflicts parents have with their children or conflict between siblings. Many of these common troubles may arise from parent separation divorce financial troubles or alcohol or substance abuse. But often Family Therapy is needed to provide the support and skills in dealing with issues such as mental health issues within the family or relationship. In these cases the individual would receive specialist one-on-one therapy or rehabilitation treatment but the family members could undergo family therapy session to provide them with the skills to manage the crisis. A crucial part of Family Therapy is that it strives to avoid the blame-game so avoids pointing the finger at any one individual. Instead the therapist will typically interview all the family members individually to find out their particular point of view of the problem how the problem arose and what they have been doing so far to resolve it. The goal after all is to assist families by giving them the skills to resolve issues and work through conflicts in a more open and healthy way. As a result Family Therapy treatment plan are typically short term with only around a dozen sessions. Though some families may wish to continue the therapy to strengthen the skills they have learned and the family bonds. However as there are so many potential root causes for conflict within any family there is also the need for many types of therapy treatment. As a result there are many approaches to Family Therapy counselling and we will consider some of the more common ones used by therapists.

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Structural Therapy The idea behind structural therapy is that the family strength comes about through a web or matrix formed by all the interpersonal relationships amongst the family members. A strong family or a well-adjusted family is described as being one that can adjust and cope with problems by responding and developing in order to adjust to best serve the f am i l y ’ s needs. In this case a therapist will work with the family group to identify and strengthen the family bonds as well as identify and help resolve interpersonal relationship issues that may be constraining the f am i l y ’ s ability to grow and develop in order to resolve their issues. In this style of therapy the therapist is concerned with working with the family group to assist them in identifying and resolving their own internal interpersonal relationship issues. As a result it is often felt that the best results came about through therapy sessions taking the form of less-formal family group meetings. The technique the therapist common use is called tracking and this is where the therapist listens carefully to each family member as they relate their stories. The therapist carefully notes each sequence of events and this enables them to identify trends in the sequences and may assist in planning interventions or identifying trigger points or behaviours.

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Strategic Therapy In contrast to structural therapy strategic therapy is much more planned and borrows from a wide range of psychotherapy practices. The strategic plan is to step the counselling through a number of set stages or milestones such as an initial brief social session where the therapist gets to know each of the family members. Once a level of trust and familiarity has been established the therapist will move the sessions to the problem stage. This is where the therapist will discuss with members individually and as a group to establish the points of view of each member individually and as the family unit collectively. The next stage is the interaction stage where the therapist identifies the inter- relationship bonds between family members and how they interact with one another. This is an important stage as the therapist is trying to establish the internal family relationships and how weaker bonds can be strengthened or potential conflicts can be avoided. Once the therapist has established how the family group works – its dynamics – they can set goals and tasks to accomplish the objectives and these are the final two stages in the strategic plan approach.

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Narrative Therapy This approach to Family Therapy is quite different from other styles as it focuses on the individual rather than the family group. The idea behind the Narrative approach to therapy is that everyone has their own story or personal view of themselves. The narrative approach also gives the individual credit for having the skills and social intelligence to be able to fix their own problems if given sufficient help. The approach then relies on providing some initial guidance clarity and support for the individual so that they can address their own issues in life. The Narrative therapy approach is therefore about empowering the individual – the narrator – so that they can learn the skills to identify and resolve conflict in their own relationships.

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Transgeneration Therapy The theory behind transgeneration therapy is that by observing the interactions between family members across multiple generations this will give the therapist a better idea of the f am i l y ’ s core issues and strengths or weaknesses. This technique takes a broader look at the family set-up over several generations which allows the therapist to examine past and present interactions that may cast light upon and help resolve current issues. T h era p i s t s ’ also believe that the transgeneration therapy technique is a valuable additional tool in many other therapy approaches as it can also perhaps identify and avoid any potential future conflicts. One of the techniques applied by therapists using transgeneration is called the genogram. This is an enhanced family tree with all sorts of added relationship relevant information and this provides the therapist with a lot of background family information. Often with this level of family background the therapist can get a good idea of how the family works and its underlying relationships.

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Communication Therapy This is one of the most important approaches to Family Therapy as many cases are down to a breakdown in communications between family members. However despite lack of communication or communication skills being a root-cause for the escalation of family issues and perhaps even a trigger for conflicts it is difficult to resolve. Therefore communication therapy may be held at an individual level in order to trying to improve skills such as how to start a conversation or even how to listen to others. When communication breakdown is between specific family members such as a parent and child then mediated communication sessions are typically used to try and coax the participants to engage and actively listen to one another. Another technique that has some success is to promote non-judgemental group discussions where members are encouraged to reflect on their feelings and especially the feelings of others in the family group. By encouraging all family members to reflect and express their feelings in turn this technique may uncover faulty communications patterns between individuals.

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Reframing Reframing is a common technique used in Family Therapy as it can prove very effective in removing or rather working around stubborn obstacle of behaviour. Typically reframing is used to re-categorize conflict trigger behaviour into something more acceptable. The classic example is the parent that nags and interrogates the teenager that has returned home late from a date. The idea being is if the teenager can see this behaviour not as the actions of a parent showing lack of trust or anger at perceived disobedience but as the actions of a concerned and worried parent then the behaviour would be viewed differently. Reframing is therefore the technique used to try and resolve conflict by reclassifying a negative behaviour into a more favourable and acceptable light.

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Pyschoeducation This is a specialist technique used to educate and empower individuals suffering from mental health issues. A therapist using psychoeducation role is to assist and support the individual and importantly their family in dealing with the illness and often the stigmatization associated with mental health conditions. Therefore psychoeducation is used to firstly as the name suggests to educate the individual and family members by the transfer of knowledge regards the condition. Secondly the technique is used to provide self-help and training as this goes a long way in thirdly providing medication and treatment support. Lastly psychoeducation provides safe conditions for an individual or family member to vent their anger or frustration.

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Relationship Counselling Not all Family Therapy involves the entire family unit as some failures or issues with relationships are down to problems between couples or siblings. These issues are often difficult to resolve because they can have many underlying root-causes. With regards relationship issues between couples they can arise from a variety of causes such as lack of trust infidelity financial problems alcohol or substance abuse amongst many others. Poor communication and emotional distancing are the first symptoms that come to the fore quickly followed by a lack of sexual intimacy that makes couples question whether they should stay together or not. This is typically when couples seek relationship counselling. Unfortunately most couples put off relationship counselling until it is too late. They do this for a mixture of reasons but one common one is that they are concerned that by telling the truth about their feelings may make the situation even worse. However just by showing a commitment to attending relationship counselling makes a significant statement of the i n d i v i d u al ’ s desire to preserve the relationship. As with all Family Therapy it works best when all relevant parties attend in relationship counselling concerning a couple it is especially important. This is because it removes the opportunity for an individual to demonstrate the human condition of portraying themselves as the victim as is so common in individual therapy sessions. Also when a couple are counselled together counselling works to surface the deep-seated relationship problems and as couples recognize the problems from the others perspective they often show tendencies to work together to support one another.

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Conclusion Family Therapy takes the view that an i n d i v i d u al ’ s behaviour or symptoms must be viewed in the context of the wider family unit. This is especially true with young children as their behaviour is likely to be heavily influenced by the family group. However Family Therapy requires cooperation from the members of the family and that can often lead to resistance. As a result some family members may not wish to participate but they should be persuaded to as the more family members are in attendance the better the therapist can gauge and understand the family structure and inter-relations. Of course there are many who do not wish to discuss family behaviour or relationships outside of the family unit and in some cultures that is deeply ingrained. However Family Therapy is also very useful at surfacing unwanted and often damaging family behaviours that go unnoticed in day to day family life. Family Therapy may not be suitable for every family but when it is appropriate it can be a very powerful and useful form of counselling.

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