What is family therapy?

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Family Therapy – or to give it its full title, Family and Systemic Psychotherapy – helps people in a close relationship help each other.

It enables family members, couples and others who care about each other to express and explore difficult thoughts and emotions safely, to understand each other’s experiences and views, appreciate each other’s needs, build on strengths and make useful changes in their relationships and their lives. Individuals can find Family Therapy helpful, as an opportunity to reflect on important relationships and find ways forward.

Research shows Family Therapy is useful for children, young people and adults experiencing a very wide range of difficulties and experiences. See our FAQ on 'What difficulties are helped by Family Therapy?'.

Family Therapy aims to be:

  • Inclusive and considerate of the needs of each member of the family and/or other key relationships (systems) in people’s lives
  • Recognise and build on peoples’ strengths and relational resources
  • Work in partnership ‘with’ families and others, not ‘on’ them
  • Sensitive to diverse family forms and relationships, beliefs and cultures
  • Enable people to talk, together or individually, often about difficult or distressing issues, in ways that respect their experiences, invite engagement and support recovery.

Download AFT’s leaflet ‘What is Family Therapy’ (PDF).

See our Frequently Asked Questions.

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