Family Therapy

Topics: Family therapy, Family, Psychotherapy Pages: 11 (3437 words) Published: November 25, 2013


Family Therapy: An Overview
Jennifer Smidt
Liberty University

Abstract
The family therapy process was described in detail beginning with before the initial interview and ending with termination. Family therapists must understand the family dynamic using the Systems Theory. The Systems Theory was defined and described in detail. Family therapists have different approaches to helping families depending on their unique issues. Each approach was defined and a reason for using these approaches were given. The American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Code of Ethics has eight sections. Each section was examined and explained in detail with examples of possible issues the family therapist may have. It is concluded that family therapists have a duty to adhere to and follow every section of the ethics codes to not only protect themselves, but their clients as well. It has also been determined that a family therapist must examine themselves and have a good understanding of their own values and beliefs. A family therapist must always put the needs of the clients ahead of their own.

Introduction to Family Therapy
Family therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on the unique family system. The goal of family therapy is to strengthen the family system as a whole, with each member adding its own unique contribution. The role of the family therapist is complicated by not only strengthening the family as a whole, but also dealing with each individuals issues. This paper discusses the process of therapy from before the initial interview to termination. Also, this paper discusses, in detail, the ethical code and the role ethics play in family therapy (Patterson, 2009). Systems Theory

Family therapists must understand how the family system communicates and what the nature of their relationship is. The System Theory is “an approach that defines family at its most elemental level…and breaks the family down to its most basic components, without which the family system would not exist (Jurich & Johnson, 2008). Winter (2001) states that the components of a system are: 1. Family systems have individual components that work together to create a single foundation 2. Each family system has its own predictable patterns of communication 3. Family systems have both internal and external boundaries 4. Each family system is a group of individuals that make up one whole group 5. Each family system has its own repetitive and redundant rules and messages 6. Family systems have their own subsystems that have their own set of rules and messages.

Interview
Before the first interview even takes place, the family must make the decision as to who attends therapy, what issues will be addressed, and who is responsible for the issues. Families entering therapy are taking a risk by coming to therapy as they have both a significant amount to gain and lose. From a family therapist’s point of view, the time before the first interview is extremely important. The family therapist can receive considerable insight during the first phone call by listening to the client, assessing the nature of the problem, and determining the real reason for therapy. The family therapist also needs to determine whether they feel they are competent and experienced enough to help the client with their issues. The therapist should also avoid giving advice at this time and use this time to only gather information (Goldenburg & Goldenburg, 2011). Initial Interview

The initial interview is an extremely critical point in the therapy process. In this stage, the family therapist must establish a good rapport with the client as well as define boundaries and expectations. According to Margolis and Zweben (2011), it is helpful for family therapists to break the first interview into four stages. In the first stage, the therapists makes the clients feel welcome and eases their anxieties. The second stage is where the family...
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