Our family members are often the people with whom we have some of our most powerful relationships. They are the people to whom we are genetically or emotionally bonded, but our connections with them are not immune to conflict. Family therapy or family counseling is a form of psychotherapy that aims to reduce distress in the family system by helping members learn new ways of working together and managing challenges.
In Family Therapy, the family is seen as a "whole" system, rather than just as the sum of its individual members. It focuses on relationships within the family unit and takes place with the family members present. As with individual and group therapy, Family Therapy is used to approach a wide variety of therapeutic goals. Rather than viewing problems as owned and caused by a particular family member (also called an "identified patient"), Family Therapy, helps to identify the ways that relationship and individual problems are caused and maintained by the family dynamics. For example, if a child is having academic and social problems, the focus will be on identifying the family patterns that have contributed to the child acting out, rather than working on existing in the mind/psyche with the child alone.
Family Therapy may be the primary focus of treatment, or could be used as a supplement to individual therapy.