We teach families the skills needed to improve communication, solve problems, and understand how to handle special family situations such as mental illness, substance use, intellectual/developmental disabilities, so families can create a better functioning home environment. We often use family therapy when the child in treatment is very young and the focus is on parenting skills training; when a child or adolescent is suffering with anxiety disorder or a mood disorder that impairs their family and social functioning; and, when a new step-family is formed and the child is having difficulty adjusting to the new family life.
Family therapy is based on family systems theory, in which the individual's inappropriate behaviors are seen as a result of dysfunctional behavior within the family (system) or as affecting the family negatively. Family therapists take on the role of educators, motivational investigators, and collaborators. Problems are treated by changing the way the system works rather than trying to fix a member of the family. When the family is transformed the lives of every family member is altered accordingly. Improvement can be more lasting because each family member is changed and continue to exert change on each other. Family therapy is usually geared towards changing the unhealthy ways that members of the family interact with each other.
What is a family?
Family structure has changed dramatically over the last 50 years. The "Leave it to Beaver" family is no longer the standard; several variations on family have been created. There are at least six types of family structures identified by society today.
The following types of families exist today, with some families naturally falling into multiple categories. For example, a single parent family who lives in a larger, extended family. While these types of families are distinct in definition, in practice the lines are less clear. As laws and norms change, so do family structures.
The nuclear family is the traditional type of family structure. This family type consists of two parents and children. The nuclear family was long held in esteem by society as being the ideal in which to raise children. Children in nuclear families receive strength and stability from the two-parent structure and generally have more opportunities due to the financial ease of two adults.
Single Parent Family
The single parent family consists of one parent raising one or more children on his own. This family may include a single mother with her children, a single dad with his kids, or a single person with their kids. The single parent family is the biggest change society has seen in terms of the changes in family structures. One in four children is born to a single mother.
The extended family structure consists of two or more adults who are related, either by blood or marriage, living in the same home. This family includes many relatives living together and working toward common goals, such as raising the children and keeping up with the household duties. Many extended families include cousins, aunts or uncles and grandparents living together. This type of family structure may form due to financial difficulties or because older relatives are unable to care for themselves alone. Extended families are becoming increasingly common all over the world.
While most people think of family as including children, there are couples who either cannot or choose not to have children. The childless family is sometimes the "forgotten family," as it does not meet the traditional standards set by society. Childless families consist of two partners living and working together. Many childless families take on the responsibility of pet ownership or have extensive contact with their nieces and nephews.
Over half of all marriages end in divorce, and many of these individuals choose to get remarried. This creates the step or blended family which involves two separate families merging into one new unit. It consists of a new husband, wife, or spouse and their children from previous marriages or relationships. Step-families are about as common as the nuclear family.
Many grandparents today are raising their grandchildren for a variety of reasons. One in fourteen children is raised by his grandparents, and the parents are not present in the child's life. This could be due to parents' death, addiction, abandonment or being declared unfit. Many grandparents need to go back to work or find additional sources of income to help raise their grandchildren.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to what is family or what is the best type of family structure. As long as a family is filled with love and support for one another, it tends to be successful and thrive. Families need to do what is best for each other and themselves, and that can be achieved in almost any family structure.