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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Morran

The What and Why of Family Therapy

You know the idea that when you pull a muscle in your body, it's not only that one muscle that is affected. The entire body is affected and the longer the injury is left untreated the greater the impact. Treatment for the injured muscle is not solely focused on one muscle but the whole body works together to heal. This is why family therapy is so important, when one family member is struggling the impact is felt by all.

What is family therapy?

Family therapy is a type of counselling that focuses on the family as a whole, their interactions, and individuals within their family relationships. Family therapy can assist members of a nuclear family, stepfamily, and, extended family with developing and maintaining healthy functional family relationships. In family therapy, the client is the family relationship, not the individual family members. Every family has a unique set of values, culture, needs, strengths, and barriers that are explored, utilized and respected while working with a therapist.

Why seek family therapy?

Families may seek support from a therapist for a number of reasons. Therapy can be vital when experiencing challenges that are putting stress on family members and their relationships. Everyone is affected, everyone plays a role, and everyone needs to do something different to strengthen family relationships and nurture change.

Some challenges families face that therapy can be helpful in are:

  • Relationship conflict (parent/child or sibling)

  • Communication

  • Parenting & co-parenting

  • Child & adolescent behaviours

  • Life & developmental transitions

  • Grief & loss

  • Anxiety

  • Depression

  • Substance use

  • Change in family dynamics

  • Stress

  • Emotion regulation

What are the benefits of participating in family therapy?

Thinking back to your muscles, when you exercise and strengthen your muscles your whole body is working together for the desired outcome, to function more optimally. Working as a family when change occurs each member of the family experiences change. Some of the benefits that occur in family therapy are:

  • Stronger family relationships

  • Supportive & understanding family environment

  • Enhanced communication & problem-solving skills

  • Increased emotional awareness & regulation

  • Reduced conflict

  • Increased ability to manage future conflicts or challenges

What to look for in a family therapist?

Finding the right family therapist can seem daunting. You and your family have decided it is time to do something different and you require assistance to do so. When looking for a therapist to support your family you may want to look for one who has a background, training, and experience in family systems and dysfunctional family patterns. Also, it's important to consider a therapist whom you and your family will feel comfortable with. Many therapists offer a free consultation to help decide if they are the right fit for you.

Some specific questions you may want to ask when looking for a family therapist may be:

  • How long have you been providing therapy to families?

  • What experience do you have supporting families?

  • What training do you have specifically for family work?

Family therapists should create a space where everyone feels seen, heard, and understood to empower families, strengthen relationships, and nurture growth.

Does your family need support navigating challenges and strengthening relationships? Contact me now for a free 15-minute consultation at or call 403-454-9056.

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