What is Family and Systemic Psychotherapy?

Family and Systemic Psychotherapy is one of the major evidence based therapeutic approaches provided within the NHS. It refers to a range of psychological interventions for individuals, couples and families based on systemic concepts and theory. These approaches help people make changes in their thinking, behaviour and understandings to relieve distress, improve the quality of their important relationships and make positive changes in their lives.

Systemic Family Therapy includes work with families, couples and individuals of all ages, and is an important resource for multi-disciplinary professional teams. It has proven effectiveness for people experiencing distressing yet relatively common mental health and relational difficulties, and for serious mental health and behavioural problems.

Systemic Family Therapy recognises that different cultures and groups have different ideas of what ‘family’ means. It takes ‘family’ to describe any group of people who define themselves as such, including same-gender couples and families-of-choice. As well as parents and children of all ages, family therapists may work with grandparents, siblings, uncles and aunts, cousins, friends, carers, other professionals – whoever people identify as important to their lives. Family Therapy is useful for children, young people and adults experiencing a wide range of difficulties. Family Therapy aims to be:

Inclusive and considerate of the needs of each member of the family and/or other key relationships (systems) in peoples’ 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