How does Systemic Family Therapy Work?

Systemic therapy seeks to identify stagnant patterns of behaviour in groups of people such as a family, and address those patterns directly, irrespective of analysis of cause.  The systemic therapist's role is to help systems to change themselves by creative “nudges” and a different perspective into the system.  Systemic therapy provides living systems with fresh inspiration or information that help them to independently develop new organisational structures allowing for growth.

Systemic therapy differs from analytic forms of therapy, (including psychoanalytic or psychodynamic forms of family therapy), as the focus is on practically addressing current relationship patterns rather than analysing causes such as subconcious impulses or childhood trauma. Systemic therapy differs from family systems therapy in that it addresses other living systems (i.e. groups of people) in addition to the family, for example businesses. In addition to families and business, the systemic approach is increasingly being implemented in the fields of education, politics, psychiatry, social work, and medicine.

Close relationships sometimes fuel problems, and sometimes they break down under stress. Yet close relationships can also be the key to helping people better manage or recover from difficulties.  Systemic Family Therapy is a collaborative therapy that integrates understandings from social and mental health care in its thinking, approaches and service delivery. Systemic Family Therapy helps develop greater understanding of other’s experiences and needs and builds on existing family strengths and resources.

Mobilising a person’s close relationships helps ensure benefits from therapy are sustained, with reduction in future demands on services from the identified client and family members. (Crane, 2008).