The belief that people exist within interrelations with the family with each person standing for a unique combination of the people comprising the family unit is central to the foundation of the family therapist’s practice. Universal among members through the process of assessment and therapy are the patterns of interaction that are always circular. It can be deduced that the consequences of action contribute to current behavior and that it is a precursor of things to be unveiled in the future. When a family seeks therapy, the concerns seem to be fixed as a creation of the behavior displayed by an individual or a single aspect of the family (Caldwell & Woolley, 2008). The unit’s approach views this “specific patient” as a sole element of the family’s changing perspectives. In marriage and family counseling, assessment differs from individual therapy in the evaluation of the changing aspects. The interpersonal connections of each member of the family is an essential requirement. The whole family as a unit is deemed the client in family therapy. Interactions between and among the individual members are thus the focus of the therapist (Barnes, 1990, p. 28).
In family therapy, psychoanalysts inspect a family system and the interactions within it. Thus, there are two crucial ways in which family therapy differs from an individual one. The two ways include all members are viewed as a component of a family system. The second way entails the assessment seeking information about day-to-day interactions between these family members is holistic in the manner in which it is conducted. The assessment also includes the patterns of behavior embedded in the family system and the differences in personality.
As a psychotherapy, family therapy involves each member of a system of the family (Nuclear or stepfamily) where certain members of the extended family like grandparents, aunts, uncles, et. cetera) might be involved in some cases. To assist families in dealing with critical issues of concern that may interfere with the way the family functions and the environment back at home, a therapist (or a group of therapists) conduct numerous sessions for examination in their assessments.
The objective of any family therapy includes; the aiding in the improvement in communication between members, settling disputes, familiarizing with different family situations, and their management. Examples of such cases might range from grief, severe mental or physical illnesses, matters children, and adolescent complications, among other challenges we won’t mention now. Family therapy is meant to educate families on the specificities of the specific situation they are engulfed in. For example, suppose a family seeks counseling due to one of its members having a severe ailment. In that case, the therapist should develop guidelines and instructions that enlighten the family system on the disease, coming up with a resolution of the challenges associated with the care of the ailing member. In children and adolescents, the therapy is often necessitated by mood, anxiety, and personality disorders that may cripple functioning (family or social). It can also be employed to form a stepfamily or when they start facing difficulties in fine-tuning to the new family life. Family therapy may also be beneficial to interracial and intercultural families, and those that differ in religious backgrounds.
Marriage and Family Therapy
As psychotherapy, MFT or Marriage and family therapy address the behavioral patterns of every member in a family system and how they affect individual members, the interrelationships between them individually, and the unit as a whole. Time used upon the individual, and pent on couple/family therapy (or both when necessary) is the basis to which the treatment is usually broken down. Marriage counseling, family counseling, couple counseling, and family therapy are some of the other names that can be used to refer to MFT. Physical and mental problems that can be treated by marriage and family therapy range from parent and child disputes, marital and couple disagreements, alcohol, and substance abuse, affliction, death, sexual dysfunction, eating disorders and matters weight, behavioral problems in children, difficulties touching on eldercare. Like for instance, coping with parent’s/grandparent’s senile dementia. In marriage and family therapy, practitioners also deal with subjects involving depression in a member(s) of a family system, disquietude, and paranoia, integration dysfunction syndrome(schizophrenia), and the effects these concerns have on the rest of the family, among other mental-health risks.
Typically, marriage and family therapy are composed of a dozen solution-oriented sessions and are almost always short-term therapy. However, conditional to the nature and the intensity of the matters in question, more sessions may be required. In a couple/marriage counseling, the psychotherapist begins with acquainting both partners spending time with each one individually, whereas, in family therapy, they start by setting up a meeting with the whole family as a unit going on to meet with individuals separately whenever it’s deemed appropriate. Generally, the first session’s importance is for the therapist to learn the details about the family or couple that led them to seek therapy. Here, they get to gather the necessary information. They also get to hear from all sides involved in the partaking as they observe the particular dynamics at play in a specific situation. In the same breath, the therapist is expected to gain a clear insight on the competence of the role they are supposed to play, the objectives set for treatment, and regulations to be considered throughout the therapy. Like for instance, which sessions should be attended by who, and the confidentiality of any details submitted and exchanged between and among individual members/partners involved and the practitioner. In due course, the therapist is tasked with examining and identifying the specific family/partner roles and conduct attributable to the conflicts presented. The therapist is also expected to categorically detect the particular challenges the clients are faced with exploring ways to resolve such problems dynamically.
How MFT works
Seeing as therapy in marriage and family differs with a convectional one that concentrates more on an individual, MFT investigates how the behavioral patterns of an individual affect them and their relationship as a component of a family system or a couple. Irrespective of whether a problematic concern seems to be inclined to an individual within a family, MFT’s framework gets other members of the unit involved in the process of therapy, resulting in more efficient resolves. In it’s working towards the establishment of an end-result, therapy marriage and family must be target oriented. Calls to incorporate expanded approaches to conventional MFT practice by practitioners have, in recent times, arose. These should be combined with more realistic methods to integrate other forms of therapy, making way for more inclusivity of non-heterosexual families and couples. Some typical tasks regularly assigned to family or marriage therapist include mental disorder diagnosis and treatment, performing psychotherapy on families, couples and individuals, establishing treatment plans, assisting the client in the creation and adoption of new interactive communication skills and gathering information about the patient(s) through interviews, observations, discussions, and formal assessments (“About Marriage and Family Therapists”, 2020).
Apart from the training and educational ones (including a master’s degree and two years of supervised clinical experience), characteristics that are essential requirements for therapists are outlined as follows. Interpersonal skills entail that the marriage or family therapist should bear compassionate and empathetic traits, problem-solving capabilities that ensure that they can tackle complex issues effectively. The ability to build the trust needed to help their clients feel more comfortable sharing their most inward thoughts and feelings.
Since therapists offer professional guidance to families or couples in a secure and controlled environment, they help families work and resolve their issues in a most effective holistic approach. The benefits clients can gain from these therapy sessions include an enhanced understanding of healthy limits, family patterns, and their dynamics, improved communication, advanced problem-solving approaches, deeper compassion, minimalized disputes and healthier anger management skills (10 Acre Ranch, 2017). Family therapy can more explicitly improve family interrelations through bringing its members together after a crisis, establishing honesty between individuals in the system, building trust between its members, creating a sympathetic environment, minimizing sources of conflict and pressure within the family, assisting members in forgiving each other, resolving conflict among its members, and integrating isolated members back in their connections with the family (American Addiction Centers, 2017).
Concepts to be identified in Family Therapy
A new systems theory was introduced in the early 2000’s which is most often practiced in a setting that is more home-based for families with severe emotional disruptions emanating from children and adolescents. This theory is called the Multisystemic therapy or MST and is today most commonly applied to family therapy. Its view focuses on the family environment comprising of the numerous systems with which the child interacts with their family like school, home and the community in general. This theory can reduce out-of-home placement of the perturbed adolescents while also improving family interrelations, minimize substance abuse, increase school attendance thereby enhancing performance, reduction of psychiatric symptoms in adolescent youth among other benefits (Writers, 2020).
10 Acre Ranch. (2017, January 23). 10 Acre Ranch. Retrieved from https://www.10acreranch.org/blog/2017/01/23/5-benefits-family-therapy
About Marriage and Family Therapists. (2020). Retrieved 19 August 2020, from https://www.aamft.org/About_AAMFT/About_Marriage_and_Family_Therapists.aspx
American Addiction Centers. (2017). The benefits of family therapy. Forterus. Retrieved from http://forterustreatment.com/therapy/family-therapy
Barnes, G. G. (1990). Making family therapy work: Research findings and family therapy practice. Journal of Family Therapy, 12(1), 17–29. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1046/j..1990.00367.x
Caldwell, B., & Woolley, S. (2008). Marriage and Family Therapists’ Endorsement of Myths About Marriage. The American Journal Of Family Therapy, 36(5), 367-387. doi: 10.1080/01926180701804626
Writers, S. (2020). The Benefits of Marriage and Family Therapy. Retrieved 19 August 2020, from https://counselor-license.com/resources/marriage-and-family-therapy/benefits