What is family therapy?
Family therapy is an evidence-based form of therapy that takes place between yourself, a therapist and your immediate family or loved ones. This form of therapy encourages you and your family to have an open and honest dialogue about your mental health challenges and how these impact on the wider family unit, develop an understanding of each other’s point of view, and think of ways in which you can support each other more effectively in the future.
What is couples therapy?
In a similar way to family therapy, the purpose of couples therapy is to encourage an open dialogue between partners regarding the impact that mental health and addiction challenges are having on them as individuals, as well as their relationship.
When are family and couples therapy used at Priory?
Family and couples therapy have been found to be highly effective in the treatment of a wide range of mental health problems including depression, anxiety, stress, addictions and eating disorders. They can also be useful for individuals who are experiencing problems in their relationships, or may be going through a separation or divorce and need support to help them to work through these issues. Family therapy in particular is also widely used as a treatment for young people struggling with mental health problems. Therapy can also be provided to couples and family members who are impacted by a separation or divorce.
Family and couples therapy sessions can take place as part of Priory’s intensive inpatient treatment offerings, and are also commonly used during our comprehensive residential Addiction Treatment Programmes.
Family and couples therapy can also take place on a less intensive basis during day care and outpatient treatment at Priory, depending on you and your family/partner’s situation and your unique requirements.
Family and couples therapy can be delivered using a variety of therapy types, which include cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), depending on the therapeutic technique that has been deemed as the most appropriate for your individual mental health concerns, as well as the unique dynamics within your family and personal relationships.
What does a typical family/couples therapy session look like?
Family therapy sessions typically consist of the patient as well as several of their close family members. Couples therapy consists of the patient, therapist, and the patient’s partner, spouse or significant other. However, family members and partners are also able to see a family therapist on an individual basis if needed.
Family/couples therapy sessions typically last for between 50 minutes to an hour, and generally take place on a short term basis – usually 12 sessions. However, the frequency, number of sessions and the type of therapy that is used within a family/couples therapy programme, depends upon the type of mental health challenges that are being dealt with, as well as the unique needs and requirements of both the patient and their family/partner.
Supporting families through a divorce
A divorce or separation impacts the whole family unit and can be an extremely difficult time for everyone. It is important that any difficulties and issues are addressed early, so that each member of the family can thrive and enjoy positive wellbeing within the new family structure.
Priory’s specialists are adept at working with families going through a divorce or separation, providing evidence-based divorce therapy that encourages open and honest communication.
More than 40% of marriages end in divorce and nearly a quarter of a million people go through a divorce each year. Almost half of all divorces involve children, who can get ‘caught in the crossfire’ and can often be left feeling vulnerable and unsure of the changes occurring in their lives.
Parental separation and/or divorce is one of the main risk factors for children developing emotional and behavioural difficulties, and subsequent mental health problems such as depression, low self-esteem, self-harming and suicidal ideation.
The importance of long-term healing
A separation can be very difficult to navigate and families often face functional disputes over contact and living arrangements, child maintenance, property and money. These added stressors can have a negative effect on mental health and wellbeing. Where this is the case, therapy and/or medication can be used to help with the resulting symptoms. It is important to not only deal with the immediate conflicts and resolutions, but to also work towards long-term healing. Therapeutic intervention can help each member of the family unit rebuild and return to positive mental health and wellbeing within the new family structure.
Therapy to support those going through a separation can help to manage:
- Parents’ expectations about how to parent separately
- Different belief systems and the impact they can have on children
- Passive or active resentment between parents and the subsequent impact on children
- Communication between the separating parents so that it is conducive to the positive wellbeing of their children
- Supporting mental wellbeing throughout the process
Working with families and couples, Priory’s divorce therapists can help you with:
- Creating a ‘road map’ outlining what a ‘good’ divorce or separation can look like
- Support in communicating the process to children
- Acknowledging the fears and insecurities the children might have, in age-appropriate language
- Providing the separating parents and the family a language to talk about their thoughts and feelings regarding the change in circumstances
The therapy, delivered by a specialist in family separation, is adapted to individuals’ needs and their emotional capacity to cope. It can work on either an individual basis or involve both parties, if this is agreed.