Family Therapy

Family therapy is a branch of psychotherapy which views human behaviour and psychological disturbances as residing in a family system rather than stemming from just one individual. Family Therapy was first practised in the early 1900s, during a time when marriage counselling became an available form of counselling. Family theory considers the family to be an interpersonal system with cybernetic qualities. Certain feedback mechanisms and patterns of interaction among the members of the familial system repeat themselves and any symptom or behaviour can be seen as a mechanism of maintaining or re-attaining homeostasis in the system. Therefore no one person can be evaluated and treated without looking at the context in which this person’s behaviour occurs and the function that his or her behaviours serve. Because the individual is operating within a system, he/she cannot be expected to change unless the family system itself also changes.

Family therapy has the following goals:

-exploring the interactional dynamics of the family;
-mobilizing the family’s functional resources;
-restructuring maladaptive interactional styles within the family;
-strengthening the family’s problem-solving abilities.

Family therapy is indicated when there is a presence of open and stressful conflicts between family members with members encouraging or perpetuating the conflict.


Sholevar, G. P., Schwoeri, L. (2003) Textbook of family and couples therapy: clinical applications. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Pub.