Is it time for Family Therapy?


Why family therapy? With our communities struggling with COVID over the last year and a half – our response at Ascendant Behavioral Health is WHY NOT FAMILY THERAPY?

Recently many families have been confined together due to school and work being conducted at home.  This may have caused old maladaptive patterns to intensify due to increased stress.  Family therapy can interrupt these patterns helping each individual within the family to feel empowered to communicate their needs and understand other’s needs better.

Family Therapy is designed to help family members really listen to each other, solve problems, and find new ways to work together.  It cannot always make a problem go away – but it can give all family members new skills to get through difficult situations in healthier ways.

Usual goals of family therapy are improving communication, solving family problems, understanding and handling difficult situations within the family, and creating a better home environment.  It is very useful in any family situation that causes stress, grief, anger, or conflict.  Family members are helped to communicate honestly, actively listen to each other, and understand each individual’s perspective within the family unit.  All members learn coping skills to improve communication, decrease conflicts, and bring them closer together.

Family Systems Therapy is an evidence-based type of therapy introduced by Dr. Murray Bowen that suggests that individuals cannot be understood in isolation from one another, but rather as part of their family – and the family is an emotional unit.  Family systems therapy works to improve stress within the family by strengthening interactions between family members.  It is a strength-based treatment because it aims to adjust problems or patterns within the family unit, rather than trying to treat the problems as residing inside of an individual person.  No individual can be understood without recognizing how he or she fits within the entire family system!

Patterns of interaction develop within the system as a response to problems.  The attempted solution often maintains the problem or makes it worse – causing a vicious cycle that repeats over and over.  Each member plays out the same roles and the problems become worse over time.

Family therapy breaks these patterns by inserting a neutral family therapist who can see the family system from the outside and help the family give up old coping methods and find ways to break old patterns.  Change must be of the second order and seen from the outside in order to change the patterns of interactions within the family. Several family sessions with a family therapist can make a significant difference in your family interactions.

To learn more about starting family therapy, call or text (801) 872-5516.

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Susan Mitchell

Susan Mitchell is a licensed clinical social worker and is clinical director at Ascendant Behavioral Health, located in Lehi. She can be reached at or 801-502-3913.