Family Therapy

Family Therapy

Family Therapy

Family therapy is a type of counseling that is meant to help members of a family with their communication while also helping to work through any conflicts or issues that may be going on. Family therapy is normally done with a psychologist although a clinical social worker or licensed therapists can provide family therapy too. Most therapists who are involved with family therapy have at least a graduate or postgraduate degree and may or may not have credentials from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Family therapy is not a long term therapy. Family therapy can include all members of the family or just the ones who want and are capable of participating. The goal of family therapy depends on each individual situation. Family therapy can teach families to deepen connections and get through rough patches even long after family therapy is over.

Family therapy really is best at helping to improve broken relationships with spouses, children or other family members. During family therapy specific issues are addressed such as marital problems, financial problems, disagreements between parents and children, behavioral problems, or even substance abuse and mental health problems. Family therapy can be done along with other types of mental health treatments.

This is especially true for a family that has mental illness within it or someone with an addiction that also requires drug rehabilitation or individual therapy. For instance, family therapy can help a family cope if a relative has a mental illness such as schizophrenia or the family can utilize family therapy while the member who is addicted to drugs is in drug treatment. Family therapy is extremely useful for any and all families that may be going through grief, stress, anger or any type of conflict. Family therapy tries to bring family members together so they can better understand one another.

During family therapy several members get together with a family therapist. Family therapy sessions usually last around an hour. However many session of family therapy are needed depend on the each family’s individual situation. During family therapy the entire family will look at their ways of solving problems while also expressing their thoughts and emotions. Family roles, rules and behavior patterns will be explored in order to pinpoint the issues that may lead to conflict in order for it to be overcome. Family therapy can also help with realizing a family’s strengths, weaknesses or difficulty being open with one another.

The entire family therapy session is guided by a family therapist. The family therapist helps the family learn new ways to overcome unhealthy behavior patterns when it comes to relating with each other and communicating with each other. Sometimes the family therapist will have the family set goals together and they will work on ways to achieve them.

Family therapy does not ever automatically solve family issues or make uncomfortable, stressful, or hard to handle conflicts go away but family therapy can help each member of the family unit to understand one another better and can provide each person with skills to cope more effectively while coming together.


Contextual Therapy

Contextual Therapy

Contextual Therapy

Contextual therapy is an approach mainly to family therapy but also to individual therapy, that was developed by Boszormenyi-Nagy. Contextual therapy can be used for many different types of mental disorders though such as a dissociative disorder. Contextual therapy integrates individual psychological, interpersonal, existential, systemic, and intergenerational parts of individual and family development.

Contextual therapy is most well-known for its four dimensions of related reality.

The four dimensions of contextual therapy include:

  • Facts. Facts meaning, genetic input, physical health, ethnic-cultural background, socioeconomic status, basic historical facts, events in a person’s life.
  • Individual psychology. This includes what most individual psychotherapies cover.
  • Systemic transactions. This includes what systemic family therapy covers. Such as rules, power, alignments, triangles, feedback and more.
  • Relational ethics. Relational ethics focus on the nature of roles and connectedness of family members, caring, reciprocity, loyalty, legacy, guilt, accountability, and trustworthiness.

Contextual therapy has an aim to induce a dialogue between family members to take responsibility of their actions. Contextual therapy consists of empathic turns towards member after member of the family, in which both acknowledgement and expectation are directed at them. It requires an appreciation of each person’s point of view, even that of the current person being victimized.

The focus and nature of contextual therapy is influenced by the ethical dimension of relationships. One such ethical concept is called multidirectional partiality. This concept focuses on the best interests of each individual, even those not in the room, and relational fairness. For example, contextual therapy cannot take a focus that would be genuinely harmful to any one family member even if it’s helpful to another.

A good example of contextual therapy would be of a family that comes into therapy to help fix their son or daughter’s outburst and defiant behavior. The contextual therapist would first gain basic information such as medical information or clinical information and maybe even a genogram. The contextual therapist would then begin to have each family member explain their side of the story in order to understand the problems in the terms of background, relational context, and motivating factors. The contextual therapist would also get a good idea of the psychological processes such as hidden loyalties, destructive entitlement, scapegoating, real or perceived injustices, and ledger imbalances.

Contextual therapy would then adapt while keeping its basic principles according to what is going on in the family. Contextual therapy allows for many different aspects and approaches to be included in the therapy. Contextual therapy focuses on the emotional healing that can occur within families. Contextual focuses on the individual but still all the family members benefit on an individual basis. Contextual therapy asks families to work on increasing fairness in their relationships. Fairness is based on an understanding of the other person’s side, being responsible and accountable for behaviors and taking action. Contextual therapy gives insight regarding the relationships with family members in order to help and lead to an exploration of actions that can be taken to balance or heal the relationships.