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What Are Family Therapy Services?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
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Family therapy services are psychological counseling services offered to couples or families for various purposes. There are a number of reasons a family or couple may choose to pursue family therapy services. Pre-marital counseling might be taken before a couple gets married, or a couple might pursue marital counseling after they are married if they are having difficulties. Families might pursue counseling as a group if certain issues have arisen. For instance, if children are displaying destructive behavior, or if family dynamics are negative, due to everything from poor communication to potential addiction, or abuse in the household.

A couple or family interested in family therapy should look for a licensed psychologist who specializes in family therapy services. This ensures that this person is also able to act as a mediator in tense or difficult situations. As in most other counseling situations, the family therapist will generally begin by asking a few questions to determine why the family has chosen to come to therapy, what the specific issues are, and what their goals are from the therapy. Over time, the therapist should then begin to help the family resolve their issues by learning new ways to communicate, deal with past problems, and change behaviors.

The specific topics that are discussed in family therapy will vary based on the reason for seeking therapy, and the people who are affected. Pre-marital counseling, for example, is generally just a way for couples to start off on the right foot and be sure they know what they are getting into. Marital counseling might be more intense, particularly if couples have built up problems that need to be resolved, or if they are on the verge of separation or divorce. Families that have been impacted by a trauma, such as a death in the family or past abuses, often pursue family therapy services as well in order to shift the family dynamic to become more positive and ensure a healthy environment to live in.

As with any other type of counseling, it is important that every member of the family feels comfortable with the therapist when pursuing family therapy services. It will be necessary to open up and share private details with this person, so children especially should feel comfortable talking to him or her. Many families find that therapy services are very useful once they are able to find a therapist with whom they are all comfortable. It is not unusual for this to require a couple of tries with different counselors.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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