Family Systems Therapy
What is family systems therapy?
Family systems therapy (also called Bowenian family systems therapy) looks at the family as one emotional unit. This therapeutic approach looks at the relationships within the family and the structure as a whole.
Bowenian family systems therapy was originally developed based on the psychoanalytical principles and practice, as outlined by Murray Bowen, which began in the early 1950s. He looked at families as a whole as well as the individuals within it – their emotional responses, and how their birth order affected their coping methods, personality traits, and lives in general. He looked at how the people who made up the family related to each other.
Family systems therapy also acknowledges that some problems that individual family members are facing are created by and within the family itself.
How does family systems therapy work?
In this therapy method, the family is seen as one unit made up of various people with the theory being that if something happens to one person within the family, then the entire family is affected. Therefore it’s important that the family works together to overcome issues and to problem solve as a team. This usually involves your whole family coming to therapy, as well as individuals working on specific areas. Family members will talk about problems and learn to see the problem from other family member’s viewpoints.
When is family systems therapy used?
Family systems therapy is used to deal with pretty much any issue that affects a family and not just one particular individual, including:
- Adolescent and teen issues
- Becoming a parent or the addition of children
- Blended family adjustment
- Eating disorders
- Children’s mental health issues
- Developmental disorders
- Custody access issues
- Dealing with aging parents
- Changes in physical health
- Changes in mental health
- Family issues
- Family violence
- Marriage and relationship concerns
- Parenting issues
- Grief and loss
This type of therapy may be used to treat other conditions and concerns in addition to those listed above. It may also be used in conjunction with other treatment methods. Your therapist will work with you to determine the best treatment method for your individual circumstances.
You should be aware that there is no treatment method that is successful for every person. What works for you, may not work for someone else.
What to expect from therapy
Put simply, you will get out of therapy what you put into it. It’s not a magic solution that will solve all your problems. It may involve you doing some real work and being completely honest with yourself and your therapist. Sometimes facing our truth is the hardest thing of all – but from that discomfort can come healing and growth.