Why it's done

Family therapy can help you improve troubled relationships with your partner, children or other family members. You may address specific issues such as marital or financial problems, conflict between parents and children, or the impact of substance abuse or a mental illness on the entire family.

Your family may pursue family therapy along with other types of mental health treatment, especially if one of you has a mental illness or addiction that also requires additional therapy or rehabilitation treatment. For example:

  • Family therapy can help family members cope if a relative has a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia — but the person who has schizophrenia should continue with his or her individualized treatment plan, which may include medications, one-on-one therapy or other treatment.
  • In the case of addiction, the family can attend family therapy while the person who has an addiction participates in residential treatment. Sometimes the family may participate in family therapy even if the person with an addiction hasn't sought out his or her own treatment.

Family therapy can be useful in any family situation that causes stress, grief, anger or conflict. It can help you and your family members understand one another better and learn coping skills to bring you closer together.

Sept. 20, 2017
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  2. Marriage and family therapists: The friendly mental health professionals. American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/consumer_updates/marriage_and_family_therapists.aspx. Accessed Sept. 1, 2017.
  3. Family therapy can help: For people in recovery from mental illness or addiction. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://store.samhsa.gov/product/Family-Therapy-Can-Help-For-People-in-Recovery-From-Mental-Illness-or-Addiction/SMA15-4784. Accessed Sept. 1, 2017.
  4. Psychotherapies. National Institute of Mental Health. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/psychotherapies/index.shtml. Accessed Sept. 1, 2017.
  5. How to choose a psychologist. American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/choose-therapist.aspx. Accessed Sept. 1, 2017.
  6. Lebow J. Overview of psychotherapies. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 1, 2017.
  7. Keitner G. Family and couples therapy for treating depressed adults. https://www.uptodate.com/contents/search. Accessed Sept. 1, 2017.
  8. Sawchuk CN (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Sept. 8, 2017.