Family Systems Therapy – The Basics

Family Systems Therapy – The Basics

Are you having a hard time getting along with your spouse or children? Is your family seemingly always at odds and struggling to communicate or overcome differences?

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Family systems therapy is a solution that may help.

While individual therapy is great to work on issues directly related to one person, family therapy is ideal for groups involving more than one individual. Here’s why.

The Complete Relationship Network Is Addressed

Rather than simply focusing one one person’s problems by turning to their internal psyche to influence outside relationships, family systems therapy flips the other way and addresses the outside relationships and structure to examine how they influence the individual. Relationships, according to this system, affect the person just as much as the rest of the environment and play a key role in deciding and influencing outcomes.

Systems Thinking and Family Systems Theory

At the foundation of family systems therapy is the principle of systems thinking and family systems theory. Systems thinking examines the individual parts and pieces of a system and how they fit in with and relate to the whole. Family systems theory maintains that the relationship network and individual are inseparable. They unavoidably inform and influence each other.

Developed in the 1960s by Murray Bowen, family systems theory manifests in several forms of family therapy, as described below.

Types of Family Therapy

Structural Family Therapy

Salvador Minuchin worked to develop this type of family therapy, which focuses on family behaviors, relationships, patterns and structures as a whole, including subsystems such as parent-child or sibling relationships. Structural family therapy takes place within a therapy session and could include strategies such as role-playing.

Strategic Family Therapy

Strategic family therapy takes place outside of a traditional therapy session, typically involving an evaluation of the family behavior and communication patterns. This method of therapy “…may include reframing or redefining a problem scenario or using paradoxical interventions—those that suggest the family take action that appears to be in opposition to their therapeutic goals in order to create the desired change” (“Family Systems Therapy.” 02 July 2015. Web. 26 January 2016. Systems Therapy Approaches.).

Intergenerational Family Therapy

By examining multigenerational patterns of behavior in a family, insights can be gained to help individuals manage an area they may be struggling in, such as decision-making or handling anxiety or stress. A biological or relationship tie between different generations could explain individuals’ tendencies toward certain behaviors or thought patterns, so examining the generational influence is important. Along with this, intergenerational family therapy helps to bridge gaps in understanding by addressing communication techniques and other relatable family scenarios.

Specialized Family Therapy Treatment Options

Stephen Rodgers provides family therapy treatment sessions and specializes in family discord, divorce and separation, as well as grief and loss areas. Each situation is unique and we make sure the treatment is right for you, and that you’re comfortable every step of the way.

Call me at 720-295-4233 to learn more and fill out our contact form to schedule. You can also just click below to book online. I look forward to meeting you. 


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