Marriage Family Therapy: How to Conduct Family Therapeutic Session

Question: What is the approach of marriage and family therapy? Explain a family therapy session. Is the family therapy short-term? What happens if the other family members refuse to come?

Marriage Therapeutic Session

The approach of marriage and family therapy depends on the therapist. This type of therapy is usually classified into two main categories –

  • The historical perspective
  • The interactional perspective

How to Conduct Family Therapy Session

Therapies with a historical perspective tend to focus on the traditions of the family. The therapist may also consider looking at the way the family members are forced into certain roles.

The therapist will want to examine the way the family members of previous generation were drawn into a conflict or how they were cut out of the family network. The therapist will then try to develop a pattern of interaction for the family and teach them how to avoid repeating unhealthy pattern in their own lives. Historical perspective is not largely regarded, and the therapist focuses on the current behavior patterns of the family such as poor communication. To change family interactions, behavior therapy may then be used.

There may be variations in a session depending upon the therapist’s orientation.

But certain features characterize all family and marital therapy. The therapist encourages interaction of family members with each other during the session. The patient may be asked to even enact a scene. The therapist may play the role of a participant but may also be directive, making observations and dramatizing patterns. Some therapists may become very directive and may suggest that a couple try separating or that a grown up child leave home. The patient may even be assigned homework. The depressed individual maybe asked to switch over places or roles with a family member. He may be asked to make a family tree, tracing the influences from one generation to other. The homework is reviewed in the next session.

The time taken by family therapy depends on the therapeutic approach. Probably ten sessions are enough if the goal is to solve a specific problem by changing specific behavior. But the therapy maybe open-ended if the therapist is tackling a broader problem of the family’s history and culture.

Some therapists will refuse to treat a patient unless all concerned members attend at the initial evaluation. Even if the therapist treats the patient in absence of an important family member it may make matters worse. Thereby before starting a family therapy it is important to ensure that all are committed as the patient.