What Are the Different Family Therapy Models?

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  • Written By: Brandon May
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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Family therapy is a form of therapy that can deal with spousal relationships and family dynamics between parents and teens, as well as the relationships between grandparents or other relatives. Many different family therapy models exist, from marriage counseling to parent and child therapy, and these mostly relate to the promotion of communication and openness of emotions between family members. Eating disorder therapy, drug intervention therapy and behavioral modifications are all popular forms of family therapy models practiced by many therapists. Psychologists believe that by discussing emotions in a safe and controlled setting, this can foster a better sense of understanding and provide emotional release for each family member.

Most family therapy models are built on the communication of feelings, thoughts and ideas to provide a healthier sense of self and emotional release. Psychologists often believe that therapy involving the immediate family, or the family that lives together, helps promote a happier and healthier household. In therapeutic situations dealing with teens who have substance abuse problems or eating disorders, communication of feelings helps parents and other family members understand the emotional strain associated with these issues. This may provide better strategies for family members to become involved in the issue and help prevent emotional outbursts.


Spouses often participate in marriage counseling, one of the most popular forms of family therapy models, to help discover or prevent problems from occurring in the relationship. Often, these issues surround the problem of proper communication on all levels, whether it's about money, the future or emotions. More often than not, a therapist works with couples to find a different way of communicating emotions about various issues, helping to promote a healthier relationship. Since the relationship can affect the emotions of a child involved in a marriage, dealing with how to cope with pressures in a relationship around a child is also involved in therapy.

Many family therapy models include children and teens during therapy sessions alongside the parents, to help develop a healthier sense of communication. Therapists find ways to involve every family member in a therapy session by asking questions about each member's feelings about the family dynamics. Often, families will develop healthy strategies and plans to promote mental and emotional health that involves everyone. Playing games, talking or enjoying leisure time together are all common examples of strategies and plans developed during family therapy.


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