Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that seeks to reduce distress and conflict by improving the systems of interactions between family members. While family therapists often seek to have all family members (affected by the problem) in the room, that is not always possible or necessary. What distinguishes family therapy from individual counseling is its perspective or framework, not how many people are present at the therapy session. This type of counseling views problems as patterns or systems that need adjusting, as opposed to viewing problems as residing in the person, which is why family therapy is often referred to as a “strengths based treatment.”
“Family” is defined by the modern family therapist as anyone who plays a long-term supportive role in one’s life, which may not mean blood relations or family members in the same household. Family relationships are viewed as important for good mental health, regardless of whether all family members are participating in the therapy. It is an ideal counseling method for helping family members adjust to an immediate family member struggling with an addiction, medical issue or mental health diagnosis. It is also recommended for improving communication and reducing conflict.