Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling, is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members. It emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health.
What the different schools of family therapy have in common is a belief that, regardless of the origin of the problem, and regardless of whether the clients consider it an “individual” or “family” issue, involving families in solutions is often beneficial. This involvement of families is commonly accomplished by their direct participation in the therapy session. The skills of the family therapist thus include the ability to influence conversations in a way that catalyzes the strengths, wisdom, and support of the wider system.
In the field’s early years, many clinicians defined the family in a narrow, traditional manner usually including parents and children. As the field has evolved, the concept of the family is more commonly defined in terms of strongly supportive, long-term roles and relationships between people who may or may not be related by blood or marriage.
Family therapy has been used effectively in the full range of human dilemmas; there is no category of relationship or psychological problem that has not been addressed with this approach. The conceptual frameworks developed by family therapists, especially those of family systems theorists, have been applied to a wide range of human behavior, including organizational dynamics and the study of greatness.