Family Therapy is a type of talking therapy that can be used for a variety of situations – such as treating mental health problems of family members, staging an intervention, or mediating during quarreling or family conflict.

There are many different types of talking therapy. Therefore, if you are considering accessing therapy, it is important to consider your choices. This article provides some key areas worth knowing in regards to family therapy.

Family therapy involves multiple people from the same family partaking in therapy

What is Family Therapy?

Family Therapy: Family therapy is a form of therapy that is delivered with close family members. The therapy can focus on how a person’s actions have caused problems for their wider family. In many cases, the family will be told not to condone nor reward behaviour that is associated with their problematic behaviour. In theory, by seeing the damage their behaviour can cause, this can help the individual change their behaviour.

1. Family Therapy involves the whole family

This type of therapy is rather unique, as it involves different members of the family uniting together to take part in therapy.

The idea behind the therapy is that it will give the family a chance to raise any concerns, or for an individual to see the damage that their action’s have caused other family members.

2. Family Therapy can work for multiple conditions

The good thing about Family therapy is that it can work for a variety of different conditions – it isn’t purely designed for one set condition.

Instead, Family therapy can be useful in treating many different conditions, ranging from substance-related disorders to eating disorders. Other conditions that can be worked through include Depression or Bipolar Disorder.

3. Family Therapy aims to improve family relations

The intention of Family therapy is to improve relations within a family, which is achieved through several techniques. Every member of the family should partake if possible, to maximise its potential to work.

Essentially, Family therapy helps the family to get along better, communicate more, support one another, fix harmful relationships and generally strengthen their rapport.

4. Family Therapy usually takes around 6 months

Family therapy can vary in terms of how long it lasts. Sometimes, families need just a few sessions, while on other occasions, several sessions are needed.

Generally, therapy sessions will take place once or twice a month, for 6 months. It is important for the family to then put into practice what they have learned between the sessions.

5. What is said won’t go beyond the therapist

Many people worry when attending therapy that what they say will be discussed by their therapist – either as gossip or to teach others. But the truth is, that therapists are bound by strict confidentiality concerns that means what is said in the therapy sessions will not ho beyond the therapist. As a result, patients are recommended to say whatever is on their mind.

The only exception to the rule is when a family member says or does something that causes the therapist to believe that they are in immediate danger of either harming themselves, another member of the family, or someone outside the family. In that case, relevant authorities will be informed – but only if this is absolutely necessary.

Family therapy can bring a family together, rather than tear them apart

6. Choosing a good therapist is important

It is important that when a family is choosing a therapist, that they choose wisely. It is important to get a therapist that has plenty of experience in working with families.

The therapist will need to be calm, steady, and not take sides. The last thing that is needed is for poor behaviour by anyone to be justified, which is what could happen if a low-skilled therapist holds court in sessions.

If the therapy takes place on the NHS, then there will not be a choice of therapist. Any therapist that works for the NHS will have had their qualifications already checked, so quality is assured.

7. There is a strong potential for conflict

Unfortunately, whilst Family therapy can be very effective, it also has a penchant for causing conflict. Conflict can be a good way of strengthening bonds in the long-term, but there is also the risk that relations within the family will worsen as a result of what is said.

Mending relationships, sorting out disputes and needing behaviour change in a family is difficult. Ultimately, there is the potential that Family therapy will cause more harm than good, which participants must be aware of.

8. But there is a potential for strong effectiveness

Despite the negatives outlined above, it should also be noted that Family therapy can prove to be very effective for a family. As mentioned above, Family therapy can result in an increased bond between family members, more understanding, and more jovial relations.

Family therapy has the potential to be very effective for conditions such as Substance-related disorders, Schizophrenia and the eating disorder Anorexia, according to studies [1]. 

See Also


This website should be used purely for informational purposes, and does not intend to, nor should it ever, be used as a replacement for professional medical advice.

We strive to keep all of our pages updated, and ensure that our website is full of factual and in-depth information. However, we encourage you to browse this website with care.

As a reminder, this website and all content within it cannot and should not replace the advice of a trained medical professional. You can read our full disclaimer at this link.


If you are struggling with your mental health, help is available. With the right support and treatment, you can make a recovery. For information on helplines, or if you are in a state of crisis, please visit our crisis page by clicking on the relevant link for your geographical location (United Kingdom), (United States), (International). You can also see how to get mental health treatment and the process involved by clicking this link.


[1] INSERM. (2000). Psychotherapy: Three approaches evaluated. INSERM Collective Expert Reports.