Family Therapy: Get to Know the Four Primary Methods

In many ways, our families are responsible for the people we become, therefore, in order for any family to provide a nurturing environment for the younger members and to become a support system for everyone in it, it must function properly first. Unfortunately, due to the effects of multiple internal and external factors, families often become dysfunctional. In such situations, it is possible to make the family functional again through a form of counseling known as family therapy. If you are looking for a psychiatrist NJ who can do that for you, it is suggested that you visit the Family Psychiatry and Therapy website to find more information.

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Depending on the problems of the concerned family, the therapist may adopt one or more of the four primary methods of family therapy, which are Bowenian, Structural, Systemic and Strategic. If you are thinking about opting for family therapy, go through the following and get to know what to expect from each of the methods.


The Bowenian therapy approach is adopted when only one member of the family is willing to see the therapist, but the others cannot be involved in that particular situation. In spite of involving just one member, the Bowenian technique is still a form of family therapy and it works to improve on two primary principles, which are triangulation and differentiation.

Triangulation refers to the human tendency in all of us to tell a third party about our problems and complaints. In a dysfunctional family, one parent might be complaining to the child, instead of talking about it directly with the other parent.

Differentiation involves the phase where the therapist teaches the patient how to react less emotionally to the problematic family situations by separating emotions from thoughts.


This is an approach which involves the whole family and is particularly effective when there are troubled children involved. It aims to set limits for both children and parents, while establishing or re-establishing the parents as the authoritative figures in the family. The therapist becomes actively involved in the family’s daily lives and works towards strengthening the structure by balancing the interpersonal relationships.


Instead of becoming deeply involved in the family’s day-to-day lives like in the structural approach, the psychiatrist remains distant from them and acts as a passive, neutral party. The whole family is involved in systemic sessions, but the psychiatrist only observes, notes and deciphers the meanings behind their actions (conscious, subconscious and unconscious) and speech during the tenure of the sessions. Occasional questions and suggestions will be offered by the psychiatrist to induce and observe the reactions.


Faster and more direct than all the other methods, the therapist will take over when he/she adopts the strategic approach. From a position of power, the therapist will lead the family towards becoming more functional by adjusting the way in which each member communicates with the other. Methods of decision making will also be stated by the therapist and all the instructions need to be followed in order to see improvement. The directions are often referred to as “homework.”

This is of course, just an oversimplified version of what a psychiatrist does in any and all of these methods, but nonetheless, they should serve to provide the patients with an idea of what to expect.