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Courage & Understanding




QUESTION - What is Family Therapy?
ANSWER - Family Therapy is a form of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to enhance positive change, conflict resolution, and healthy interactions. Family Therapy emphasizes that family relationships are an important factor in individual psychological health as well.

Family Therapists believe that, regardless of the origin of the problem and whether clients consider it an "individual" or "family" issue, involving families in solutions is often beneficial. Whether only one, some or all members of a family directly participate in therapy sessions, the Family Therapist is able to guide conversations in a way that catalyzes the strengths, wisdom, and support of all individuals and relationships.


QUESTION - Why should we consider Family Counseling?
ANSWER - In general, anyone who wants to improve troubled relationships can benefit from Family Therapy. This includes families with members from different racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds, as well as same-sex couples who are raising children.

Family Therapy is effective in addressing many specific issues, including marital and financial problems, conflict between parents and children, and the effects of individual issues (e.g., substance abuse or depression) on the entire family. A Family Therapist will examine a family's ability to solve problems and express thoughts and emotions by exploring family roles, rules and behavior patterns in order to identify issues that contribute to conflict. Family therapy may help identify a family's strengths, such as caring for one another, and weaknesses, such as difficulty confiding in one another.

The ultimate goal of Family Therapy is to help family members improve communication, solve family problems, understand and handle any special family situations, and create a better functioning home environment.


QUESTION - Who is best qualified to perform Family Therapy?
ANSWER - The field of Marriage and Family Therapy is recognized by the U.S. Federal Government as a core mental health profession, along with Psychiatry, Psychology, and Social Work. Family Therapists are the experts in understanding and treating the many complicated dynamics and wide range of relationship concerns for individuals, couples and families. Family Therapists are trained in psychotherapy and Family Systems theory, which is based on the scientific findings that individuals and their problems are best seen in context, and most importantly, the context of the family.

A Family Therapist provides a unique approach to treatment by focusing on:

  • the family as a changing and evolving system, rather than just a group of individuals, but without ignoring individuals either
  • the family's unique dynamics; that is, the character of relationships, not just of individuals
  • the family's context and circumstances-recognizing that the family impinges on outside forces and outside forces impinge upon the family
  • identifying productive and empowering solutions rather than focusing on problems
  • tapping into resources rather than deficits (strengths vs. weaknesses)
  • answering the question "how" rather than "why"
  • assessing effects rather than motives
  • the Brief Therapy Model-pragmatic identification of the problem, setting goals, and intervention toward solutions
  • doing something different, without ignoring the benefits of insight



QUESTION - Who should attend Family Therapy?
ANSWER - Family therapy may include all family members or just those most able and willing to participate. Family Therapists usually evaluate a family for treatment by scheduling a series of interviews with the members of the immediate family, including children, and significant or symptomatic members of the extended family (e.g., grandparents). This allows the Family Therapist to determine how each family member sees the problem, and to form initial impressions of the family's functioning. When meeting with several members of the family at the same time, a Family Therapist can assess differences in the ways each family member perceives relationships as well as observe the patterns of interaction that often mirror the interactions at home.

Members of step-families, also called "blended families," experience unique pressures within each new family unit, including unrealistic expectations, confusion and conflict, and difficulty adjusting. Family Therapy can help all family members, including children and adolescents, deal with these issues.


QUESTION - How long will Family Therapy take?
ANSWER - Family Therapy is often short-term. Therapy sessions typically last one hour and are conducted at regular intervals-usually weekly-for several months. Family Therapy is based on the Brief Therapy Model, which emphasizes a pragmatic identification of the problems, setting goals, and working toward solutions.

The specific treatment plan will depend on each family's situation. Sometimes longer-term therapy may be appropriate when more complex issues are revealed through careful assessment.


QUESTION - What should we expect in Family Therapy?
ANSWER - Family Therapy usually focuses on relationship patterns and dynamics rather than on analyzing individual thought processes or experiences. The distinctive feature of Family Therapy is its theoretical framework rather than the number of people present at a therapy session. Specifically, Family Therapists are relational therapists-they are generally more interested in what goes on between individuals rather than within individuals.

Typically, families initiate therapy to address a specific problem, such as an adolescent acting out. Therapy sessions, however, often reveal additional problems in the family dynamics, such as communication issues. A Family Therapist will analyze the process of family interaction and communication as a whole and treat problems by changing the way the system works. A Family Therapist does not take sides with or try to "fix" a specific family member. Thinking in terms of cause and effect or attempting to allocate blame to one or more individuals has little clinical value.

Depending on the conflicts identified and the progress of therapy, the Family Therapist may focus on analyzing specific previous instances of conflict. The therapist can then suggest alternative ways family members might have responded to one another, or increase awareness by pointing out healthy and unhealthy patterns of interaction.


QUESTION - What specific issues does Family Therapy address?
Family Therapy is effective in addressing a full range of individual, relationship and family problems. A Family Therapist helps guide individuals, couples or families toward solutions through a wide variety of issues, including:


  • Communication
  • Conflict resolution
  • Decision-making
  • Separation or divorce
  • Parenting children / adolescents
  • Step-families
  • Physical / psychological abuse
  • Drug / alcohol abuse
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Childhood acting out
  • Premarital relationships
  • Extended family, including in-laws
  • Employment / schooling
  • Religion
  • Goals & expectations
  • Interests
  • Incompatibility
  • Anger
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Personal psychological problems impacting relationship
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Eating disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Infidelity & emotional affairs
  • Intimacy & affection
  • Sexual dysfunctions
  • Relationship enhancement
  • Prevention


QUESTION - What are the risks of attending Family Therapy?
ANSWER - One risk in Family Therapy is the possible unsettling of fragile defenses built by individuals or relationships before beginning therapy. This may result in withdrawal, volatile interactions or other reactive behaviors. Another risk is the potential stress for children and adolescents who may not fully understand the interactions that occur during Family Therapy.

Adding Individual Therapy to Family Therapy for one or more family members, including children and adolescents, may be helpful in addressing these risks.


QUESTION - How effective is Indianapolis Family Therapy?
ANSWER - Research indicates that Family Therapy is very effective in providing greater insight, increased differentiation of individual family members, improved communication within the family, loosening of previously automatic behavior patterns, and resolution of the problems that led the family to seek treatment.






(317) 875-9555