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What is Family Focus Therapy?

Family therapy or family counseling is designed to address specific issues that affect the psychological health of the family, such as major life transitions or mental health conditions. It may be used as the primary mode of treatment or as a complementary approach.


Family therapy is a type of psychological counseling (psychotherapy) that can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.

Family therapy is usually provided by a psychologist, clinical social worker or licensed therapist. These therapists have graduate or postgraduate degrees and may be credentialed by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).


Family therapy is often short term. It may include all family members or just those able or willing to participate. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your family's situation. Family therapy sessions can teach you skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you're done going to therapy sessions.


Family therapy can help you improve troubled relationships with your partner, children or other family members. You may address specific issues such as marital or financial problems, conflict between parents and children, or the impact of substance abuse or a mental illness on the entire family.

Your family may pursue family therapy along with other types of mental health treatment, especially if one of you has a mental illness or addiction that also requires additional therapy or rehabilitation treatment. For example:

  • Family therapy can help family members cope if a relative has a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia — but the person who has schizophrenia should continue with his or her individualized treatment plan, which may include medications, one-on-one therapy or other treatment.

  • In the case of addiction, the family can attend family therapy while the person who has an addiction participates in residential treatment. Sometimes the family may participate in family therapy even if the person with an addiction hasn't sought out his or her own treatment.


Family therapy can be useful in any family situation that causes stress, grief, anger or conflict. It can help you and your family members understand one another better and learn coping skills to bring you closer together.

What You Can Expect for Family Therapy?


Family therapy typically brings several family members together for therapy sessions. However, a family member may also see a family therapist individually.

Sessions typically take about 50 minutes to an hour. Family therapy is often short term generally about 12 sessions or may be for a longer-term. However, how often you meet and the number of sessions you'll need will depend on your family's particular situation and the therapist's recommendation.

During family therapy, you can:

  • Examine your family's ability to solve problems and express thoughts and emotions in a productive manner

  • Explore family roles, rules and behavior patterns to identify issues that contribute to conflict — and ways to work through these issues

  • Identify your family's strengths, such as caring for one another, and weaknesses, such as difficulty confiding in one another


Say that your adult son has depression. Your family doesn't understand his depression or how best to offer support. Although you're worried about your son's well-being, conversations with your son or other family members erupt into arguments and you feel frustrated and angry. Communication diminishes, decisions go unmade, family members avoid each other and the rift grows wider.

In such a situation, family therapy can help you:

  • Pinpoint your specific challenges and how your family is handling them

  • Learn new ways to interact and overcome unhealthy patterns of relating to each other

  • Set individual and family goals and work on ways to achieve them

Benefits of Family Therapy Online

Virtual Family Therapy may be a better chose if you and your family are already experiencing difficulties in your relationships, even trying to arrange group therapy sessions might feel like an insurmountable challenge. Family members of different ages and different stages in life may feel additional frustration with each other in trying to find a therapy schedule that works for everyone, let alone a physical location. Furthermore, if a member of a family is dealing with mental health conditions like social anxiety or borderline personality disorder, the act of getting to in-person counseling sessions may be even more challenging and stress-inducing.


Online therapy and teletherapy make booking appointments easier and more flexible for everyone. There is no need for you to rearrange your schedule to make an appointment at a time that probably won't work for most of your family. You can also forget about driving to an in-person clinical practice across town. Video chats and conferencing allow you and your family members to participate more easily and equitably, and the conversation can expand to include even family members who are geographically distant. Plus, you will be speaking from a place where you likely feel comfortable, especially if you're calling in from home.

Family issues are part of life which can improve

Family therapy doesn't automatically solve family conflicts or make an unpleasant situation go away. But it can help you and your family members understand one another better, and it can provide skills to cope with challenging situations in a more effective way. It may also help the family achieve a sense of togetherness. (Mayo Clinic 2021)

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