Family dynamics span a range from well-adjusted to dangerously dysfunctional, but virtually no family fully achieves the ideal depicted in a 1950s sitcom. Financial security, unconditional love, academic success and the kind of support that allows every family member to “be themselves” are rarely found within the same four walls. When deviation from this ideal causes enough friction between family members that their emotional, mental and even physical health is compromised, psychotherapy can help the family move toward more successful patterns of behavior.
Family counseling is most often conducted with the family as a group. Occasionally one person or another may be asked to meet individually with the therapist to discuss issues that are unique to him or her. Children who seem inhibited with their parents present may have individual sessions with the therapist so they will have a chance to speak more freely.
If a family member has an underlying psychological disorder such as depression, addiction or violent behavior, that person may need to receive individual treatment to address that concern in addition to continuing therapy with the family.
Family therapy can often be successful in a relatively short period of time. It also offers the benefit of addressing not only the particular problem the family sought help with but other behavioral or communication failings as well. The family can leave therapy with a much better set of tools to apply to any conflicts that may arise in the future.