Family therapy encourages every member in the family to experience belonging, where the role they play is valued. Meeting as a family helps family cohesion by creating a safe environment where each person can have a voice and express their concerns. Belonging and connection in family is vital for individual emotional well being. Family therapy provides boundaries and models the expression of thoughts and emotions with care and genuine concern, while respecting differences. It can be fun and enjoyable as family members create new shared meaning. Generally families who commit to engaging in family therapy benefit greatly from the experience.
Family Counselling has evolved out of what theorists call family systems theory. Systemic Family Therapy comes out of a view that see’s the whole family as an emotional unit. A systemic counselling focus with families evaluates the individuals within the system as part of the whole, and suggest that behaviour of individuals is inseparable from the functioning of the family of origin. So when a family counsellor thinks of an individual they reflect on that person in the context of a family grouping and not just an individual in the world on their own. In family counselling there is an understanding that what shapes us apart from genetic influences is that individual people are socially constructed within a group. For the family counsellor, family system thinking reflects on these individuals from a positon as part of a network of relationships. The family counsellor’s experiences of his own family dynamics and where he see’s himself within his own relational ecology is reflected upon and used to inform his practice. Family counselling thinking see’s the parents and family members as shapers of the self, identity and character of the individual, and so change is viewed from the perspective of the structure and behaviour of the broader family system. Conflict which often brings people into counselling is often a result of an individual member changing and that change causing disruption for the whole system because the whole system has to adjust and grow to accommodate the shift. For example the young person’s experience of puberty may coincide with new awareness of the self and others, and a desire to communicate how they feel and what they think. It might involve feelings of rejection in a parent as the child exercises their individuality, and a need to be with peers. Each member of the system is challenged to respond to this disruption. The family system is placed in disequilibrium until a new equilibrium is found.