Family therapy, also referred to as couple and family therapy, marriage and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling, is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. The different schools of family therapy have the technique of biofeedback for children common a belief that, regardless of the origin of the problem, and regardless of whether the clients consider it an “individual” or “family” issue, involving families in solutions often benefits clients. This involvement of families is commonly accomplished by their direct participation in the therapy session.
In the field’s early years, many clinicians defined the family in a narrow, traditional manner usually including parents and children. As the field has evolved, the concept of the family is more commonly defined in terms of strongly supportive, long-term roles and relationships between people who may or may not be related by blood or marriage. The conceptual frameworks developed by family therapists, especially those of family systems theorists, have been applied to a wide range of human behavior, including organisational dynamics and the study of greatness. Formal interventions with families to help individuals and families experiencing various kinds of problems have been a part of many cultures, probably throughout history. Family therapy as a distinct professional practice within Western cultures can be argued to have had its origins in the social work movements of the 19th century in the United Kingdom and the United States. By the mid-1960s, a number of distinct schools of family therapy had emerged. By the late-1970s, the weight of clinical experience – especially in relation to the treatment of serious mental disorders – had led to some revision of a number of the original models and a moderation of some of the earlier stridency and theoretical purism.
Ideas and methods from family therapy have been influential in psychotherapy generally: a survey of over 2,500 US therapists in 2006 revealed that of the 10 most influential therapists of the previous quarter-century, three were prominent family therapists and that the marital and family systems model was the second most utilized model after cognitive behavioral therapy. The number of sessions depends on the situation, but the average is 5-20 sessions. A family therapist usually meets several members of the family at the same time. This has the advantage of making differences between the ways family members perceive mutual relations as well as interaction patterns in the session apparent both for the therapist and the family.