By profession, I am a family therapist trained in the Systemic approach to therapy. Sometimes, clients that I meet for the first time wonder and ask what family therapy is, and also what would typically happen in a family therapy session. In this blog I wished to share with you some of the key principles of Systemic Family Therapy which could hopefully support you in knowing more about the profession and also to support you in making a more informed choice when looking into family therapy as an option.
I wished to start by very briefly explaining what we mean by systemic. The term systemic is used to describe how therapists who are trained in this modality view and organize information about families, relationships, problems, solutions, cultures, teams, and so on. Instead of focusing on the individual in isolation, systemic therapists are trained to look at the individual in relationship with others. The individual is viewed as part of a larger system, for example, as part of a couple, a family, a community, or an organization. Similarly, a systemic therapist would also view problems that are shared during the process of therapy, symptoms, distress, challenging behaviors, illness, and so on, a located within these larger systems instead of within the individual (Stratton, 2011).
For example, take a family that comes to therapy when a child has been refusing to go to school because the child is feeling anxious when he or she leaves home. The child’s problem does not exist in a vacuum; thus a systemic therapist might support the family with looking at the different experiences, dynamics and relationships in the family (and other contexts, such as school) that potentially could be contributing to and maintaining this anxiety and that in return, are being impacted by this anxiety. One of the aims could then be to support this family with identifying ways to recreate dynamics and relationships within which the child feels calmer and less worried.
Stratton, P. (2011). The Evidence Base of Systemic Family and Couples Therapies.
Rebecca Cassar is a Family Therapist practicing the Systemic Approach. She specializes in offering therapy to families, couples and individuals who are experiencing distress in their relationships. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.