Structural Family Therapy
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Family therapy comes in a variety of types. Structural Family Therapy (SFT) is one of the most widely used. Its emphasis is on the complete family, rather than trying to solve each individual’s issues first, then going on to group therapy. SFT therapists work to identify any habitual patterns, routines, or behaviors that may have a negative impact on family dynamics. They may seek to construct better routines within family structures in order to provide a vibrant, loving, and stable home life for all.
Structural Family Therapy is frequently advised for traumatized families, blended families, single-parent families, and at-risk families. Although any type of family can attend an SFT session, the effectiveness of SFT is such that many families on the verge of giving up can seek out this type of assistance and benefit immensely from its precepts.
This technique was developed in the 1960s as a result of one therapist’s work with inner-city children in New York. These children were labeled as disturbed youth. The therapist (Salvador Minuchin) decided that working with the children alone was insufficient to prevent troubling conduct and improve outcomes, and that involving the entire family was required to alter the child’s home life, viewpoint, and habits. Families were brought in as a whole and treated as a unit, rather than focusing solely on one child with “problem” behaviors. Minuchin discovered that when parents, siblings, and even extended family were included as providers of support, encouragement, and accountability, children’s outcomes were brought dramatically.
There is no single, predetermined length of time for therapy to last, as there is with many other therapy approaches. Instead, therapists focus solely on the fluctuating dynamics of the families involved, and they work to move in and out of the family dynamics in order to create a more effective system of functioning, communication, and boundary-setting. Treatment might last as little as two months or as long as six months, depending on the amount of treatment required and the degree to which families cooperate. The more a family listens, employs new techniques, and continues to work on all of the therapist’s recommendations, the sooner the therapy sessions will conclude.
SFT might also go through its own reorganization procedure. The therapist may visit the complete family at first, then request a few weeks with only a few family members to focus on smaller, more specific issues. Other family members may be requested to return; therapy may simply shift from a larger-scale family unit to a smaller family unit. This can help create communication and functioning within each of a family’s microcosms. For example, one week only the parents in the family attend therapy, followed by the children being separated from their parents the following week. Because the ultimate goal of family therapy is to create a secure family environment, the procedure is usually given ample time to complete.
To begin, an SFT practitioner will monitor the family in issue and take note of the family’s overall structure. Certain roles, behaviors, and boundaries, both healthy and unhealthy, will exist within this structure. By creating the creation of a chart or map, the therapist can proceed to identify any specific issues that need to be addressed, as well as which of the observed issues are generating the most problems, in order to create a full, comprehensive treatment plan. The reason the family came in will also be considered when creating a treatment plan; for example, some families may come in because a child is having trouble in school, affecting the entire family, or they may come in because a newly-blended family is having trouble creating boundaries and delineating parental roles.
After the first (or first few) sessions are done and the chart is produced, the therapist proceeds to assess the components of the family dynamics that are causing stress and strife within the family. Role-playing, sharing feelings and views, and enabling family members to speak in a safe setting may all be part of treatment. Instead of shouting, accusing, or blaming, family members may be encouraged to see the therapist as a guide to developing clearer, more helpful language.
During a session, an SFT therapist is necessary to move in and out of the family’s interactions and dynamics in order to create a safe space in which to vent, discuss, and open up. Family therapists may participate in role-playing, play the position of the devil’s advocate in increasing conflicts, and exhibit the problematic features of bullying, mocking, and other negative behaviors. Therapists may also take one family member’s side or advocate one family member’s opinion over another, allowing an angry or hurt discourse to take place in a safe, nonviolent environment.
SFT is frequently used by blended families to improve familiar connections and dynamics. Families with disabled children have also been shown to benefit from the therapeutic model because it allows them to create smoother, healthier boundaries and transitions, which can be incredibly challenging when a child has a mental disorder of some kind.
Families that have experienced trauma, such as the loss of a loved one, an accident, or anything similar, might also benefit from SFT. It can provide them the time and space they need to process their sorrow and trauma together, rather than trying to process things separately, which may create even more distance than the distance they already had before the trauma.
Single-parent families and other at-risk populations are also frequently served by Structural Family Therapy, as boundaries are typically skewed and communication frequently breaks down in these circumstances, mainly owing to stress and resentment. A family therapist may be able to help in reworking some of these relationship dynamics in order to create a smoother, easier home life.
SFT is most typically employed with at-risk families, blended families, single-parent families, and other similarly difficult families, but it can benefit people of all backgrounds and dynamics. At its core, it is intended to maximize the possibilities of familial relationships in order to offer a secure, caring environment for everyone inside the family unit, with the goal of improving outcomes for all.
If your family is dysfunctional in any way, if someone in your family has special needs or is addicted to drugs, or if you are a member of a mixed family or a single-parent family, you may be eligible for SFT through your insurance. If you do not have any obvious family dynamics issues but feel that something is constantly slightly off in family relations, you may benefit from seeking the help of a therapist trained in SFT. You could also choose to start with a traditional therapist, who can then refer you to an SFT practitioner to get your family back on track.
If you are unclear where to begin, try contacting a licensed online mental health expert. When compared to traditional therapy, online therapy is a newer form of therapeutic practice, yet it can be highly beneficial. According to research released earlier this year, most participants in supervised family therapy felt as safe and contained as they did in traditional in-person therapy. According to the findings of the study, online therapy can provide access to mental health treatment to persons who have limited resources in their immediate location.
As previously said, online therapy can be an excellent starting step for many people in engaging in a fruitful examination of their mental health care. Instead of scheduling an appointment around your family’s hectic schedule and driving everyone to a physical place through traffic, online sessions can be held from the comfort of your own home and on your family’s schedule. Furthermore, if you or your family members are not comfortable interacting with a therapist face-to-face, online therapy does not necessarily necessitate face-to-face contact. Later on, when you and your family get more comfortable with the idea of therapy, you might alter your communication tactics.
What is the next step?
If you or someone you love is considering individual therapy or counseling, please contact Through The Forest Counseling. We are a team of professionals who have the expertise to help.
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