Most studies reviewed previously and here are efficacy studies. Efficacy research which emphasizes controlled experimental and clinical trials, under specific conditions and in many ways represents the “gold standard” for establishing the usefulness of a particular treatment approach. However, as Stratton (2002) notes, efficacy studies are only the beginning of the story when considering the advantage of a certain approach to problems. Effectiveness studies also must be conducted, meaning that the controlled studies reviewed for their “efficacy” must be applied in a field or real life setting and tested to see if they are useful in applied settings.
Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that seeks to reduce distress and conflict by improving the systems of interactions between family members. While family therapists often seek to have all family members (affected by the problem) in the room, that is not always possible or necessary. What distinguishes family therapy from individual counseling is its perspective or framework, not how many people are present at the therapy session. This type of counseling views problems as patterns or systems that need adjusting, as opposed to viewing problems as residing in the person, which is why family therapy is often referred to as a “strengths based treatment.”
“Family” is defined as anyone who plays a long-term supportive role in one’s life, which may not mean blood relations or family members in the same household. Family relationships are viewed as important for good mental health, regardless of whether all family members are participating in the therapy. It is an ideal counseling method for helping family members adjust to an immediate family member struggling with an addiction, medical issue or mental health diagnosis. It is also recommended for improving communication and reducing conflict.
Reasons for seeking Family Therapy include:
The goal of family therapy is to help family members improve communication, solve family problems, understand and handle special family situations (for example, death, serious physical or mental illness, or child and adolescent issues), and create a better functioning home environment. Below are some reasons why families seek therapy:
- Behavioral or emotional issues in children
- Trouble establishing roles and boundaries between children and adults
- Inability to communicate
- Going through grief or loss
- Struggling with parenting problems
- Managing conflict
- Blending families