Family therapy works quite a bit like couples therapy, except with more patients in the room, more interpersonal dynamics, and more “knots” to untangle. Couples, families, and groups of any kind become a kind of unconscious living system, and the more individuals that comprise that system, the more infinitely complicated the dynamics of the system become.
A best case scenario for many courses of family therapy is that the family gains some immediate, palpable relief from its struggles, as well as an increased sense of curiosity about “what lies beneath” the communication and boundary confusions. Previous participants in family therapy may then transfer or resume their earlier therapy experience into an individual therapy one, where a deeper sense of completion can be gained via increased insight into the reasons behind the development of the troublesome family symptoms in the first place.
Different modalities of therapy can often be used as effective stepping stones in helping this process along. Individual therapy, couples therapy, and family therapy are each valuable in the larger picture of a family system.