Family Therapy

Family therapy often helps families that have difficulties communicating and handling conflict with each other. One viewpoint is that a family operates as a system; when one member acts, that action affects all the others. When one person changes how he or she interacts with another member, it will affect the rest of the family.

One way to explain this idea is to use a sports team as an analogy. A team works as a unit but each member has his or her own job that he or she must perform in order for the team to function. When one person changes how he or she does their job, the rest of the team has to adjust accordingly even when the change is a good one.

Treatment Approach:

In family therapy, the therapist may moderate how the family interacts and help the family to change maladaptive ways of interacting while trying to maintain the balance within the family. Sometimes, when a family first comes to therapy, one person has been identified as the "patient." Even though one person is the patient, the entire family may learn how the rest of the their actions, feelings, and beliefs contribute to that person's problems. They may also learn how the family works as a whole.

How long a family remains in treatment depends on what they need and how they and their therapist view their situation. Sometimes, therapy lasts only for several weeks where they "trouble-shoot" for specific issues, while other times therapy continues for several years.

Working with Children:

Instead of Family Therapy, another approach when a child is having specific problems is to work with the child directly. These are cases where the child may be having problems in school or with other children. They child may have learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder (with and without hyperactivity), or social problems. Sessions are spent with the parents to teach them the parenting skills needed to help their child, while other sessions are spent with the child, either in "play therapy" or behavioral/social skills training. Play therapy uses games (some specific board games designed by other therapists, as well as other general games) which not only help to relax the child, but create an environment which the child can express their emotions. Children are not always good at verbally telling someone how they feel or even know or understand feelings themselves. Game playing and role playing with a trained therapist helps to elicit this information.

Patience is the key to this kind of therapy, as working with children is more like solving a puzzle. Parents need to understand this process and use the therapists suggestions. Positive reward is the key in most of these situations and punishment is lessened.


At the Center for Behavioral Health, we are a non medical facility. We do have psychiatrists and pediatricians that we work with, but our approach is non medical to start. We do not push medication on our patients but we do know when the recommendation is needed.

Our clinicians have many years experience working with families and children, and will discuss the type of therapy needed for your family during your initial evaluation.