Family Systems Therapy

Family Systems Therapy reveals relational patterns within the emotional, behavioral, and cognitive systems of the family, such that families can learn to change these patterns for growth and healthy living.

The overall goal [of counseling] is to help family members become ‘systems experts’ who could know [their] family system so well that the family could readjust itself without the help of an expert.
— -Murray Bowen, founder of Family Systems Therapy

Family Systems Therapy began over three decades ago, when it occurred to some therapists that individuals may heal from their mental illnesses faster and more effectively when family members were brought in to review and process the presenting problems. Such was the success of family therapy, that theories spawned, and family systems therapy began to root itself in effective treatment programs and approaches.

At the foundational level, family systems therapy is based on the idea that the sum of the members of a family is greater than the actual total members. This is because the interactions and patterns between members of a family or a couple account for more than the actual individuals in the relationships. People contribute continuously to the patterns of interactions in their families.

When family issues arise, it is not to determine where the problem started, since in a system, everyone (with the possible exception of young children) is responsible for the problem, even dead relatives. Emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and physical issues get passed down from generation to generation, often times unbeknownst to the family members, such that we inherit the baggage from our ancestors. Blame is not a productive option in family systems therapy, which strives to identify patterns of interaction and dysfunction, which can be resolved.

Family systems therapy focuses on drawing up genograms, looking at interaction patterns, role playing, changing the hierarchy wihtin the family, challenging family roles, and healing old wounds that are affecting present relationships. Cognitive distortions and old narratives can cloud individuals' beliefs and ideas. Couple and family therapy will help uncover and process these issues.

Choosing an integrative treatment for yourself and your family can be the right choice, and may be the lasting change you have been seeking.