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What Are Different Family Therapy Techniques?

In family systems therapy, any conflicts within the system should be addressed with the whole family.
A family therapist can help couples and entire families deal work through emotional and behavioral issues.
Article Details
  • Written By: Marisa O'Connor
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 18 June 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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There are many different family therapy techniques that can be utilized to help families solve conflicts, get through difficult times, and communicate with each other more empathetically and effectively. Cognitive-behavioral therapy and family systems therapy are some of the most commonly used types of family therapy. Other common types of therapy for families are supportive family therapy and psychodynamic therapy.

A therapist will determine which family therapy techniques to use, depending on the needs of the family and the therapist's scope of practice. Different people respond to different types of therapy differently. The most effective therapy techniques are almost always client directed, meaning the therapist observes how the family interacts and communicates and uses that information to determine which techniques will best suit the family.

One of the more common family therapy techniques is cognitive-behavioral therapy. This is a very widely used and effective therapy that addresses the individuals of the family. Problems within a family can be addressed by identifying problematic thinking or behavior patterns. For example, if the father tends to be very critical, the therapist can help him catch and change the critical thoughts. The therapist may also help the father figure out a different way to communicate his criticisms in a more productive manner.

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Family therapy techniques also include family systems therapy. This therapy's name helps describe its methodology. The family is viewed as a whole system, and any conflicts or problems exist within the system, so should be addressed by all the family members involved. For example, if a child is wetting the bed, the therapist will help the family understand what part they might be playing that could cause the bed wetting.

Supportive family therapy is another popular type of family therapy techniques. This type of therapy enables honest and open communication in a safe environment. The therapist serves as an objective witness to the concerns and feelings of the family members. The therapist's office is a sort of practice zone for changing the way family members communicate with one another. The goal is, with enough practice, the family will take the new communication skills to their home.

Psychodynamic therapy is also a widely used family therapy technique. This type of therapy works with the individuals in the family. It aims to unveil the unconscious motivations for certain behaviors or conflicts within the family. It is common for family members to get stuck in certain unconscious patterns of communication or behavior. Bringing each member of the family more understanding of his or her own thinking and actions is a very effective method of improving communication in relationships.

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