p: 952.544.6806

Family Therapy

What Is Family Therapy?

Family therapy is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in relationships to nurture change and development. It emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health.

Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is based on the theory that each family can be its own unique and diverse social system. It not only has its own patterns for communication, but it also has its own internal structure. These patterns of communication and structure can be determined by a variety of things that can include the values and beliefs of the parents, the personality of each family member as well as the influence of people outside the basic family circle, i.e. aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. All of these variables result in each family developing its own personality. This personality is exceedingly powerful and has an affect on each of the members within the family. At Choices Psychotherapy, we develop a plan of action suited to each unique family we work with.

Family therapy is also based on these concepts:

  • Any type of change in a single member of the family may have an affect on each member of the family as well as on the familial structure as a whole.
  • Problems that are suffered, or even caused, by a single family member can actually be a symptom of there being a larger problem in the family. Treating just one family member can be likened to treating only a single symptom of a greater disease while not treating the actual disease. There is the possibility that by treating only the member of the family who is struggling, other members of the family may also be adversely affected, thereby creating a vicious cycle that can continue until the family as a whole is treated.

How Many Sessions Should There Be?

While the number of sessions required will vary from client to client, family therapy is typically one type of therapy that is short-term. The number of sessions will be determined by the needs of the clients and the issues that are presented. The average number of sessions can be anywhere from five to 20 sessions.


That being said, the clients may terminate the sessions at any time, although this is typically a decision that is made by both the therapist and the client when the goals of the therapy have been achieved.

How Long Are the Sessions?

For many psychotherapy practices in the Twin Cities, a therapy session will last anywhere from 45 minutes to 50 minutes. At Choices Psychotherapy, however, we require a minimum of an hour for all initial appointments. Our philosophy is unlike many other clinics in the area. To decide on a proper course of therapy we know that it’s necessary to thoroughly understand our clients and their family dynamic. This takes time spent with clients. Initial appointments tend to be longer, and the actual length of subsequent sessions will be determined by the needs of the client and family members involved.

Who Is Involved in Sessions?

Family therapy can include all of the members of the family or it can include only those who have a desire to participate. Again, this will vary depending on the client and the situation. However, it is beneficial to build and strengthen relationships between all family members, since the actions and attitudes of one can be the result of or affect other family members. This offers the advantage of changing the ways family members perceive relationships as well as interaction patterns in the family.

Who Could Benefit From Family Therapy?

Everyone involved in family therapy may see benefits from it. Sessions for family therapy can teach you the skills that you’ll need in order to deepen those familial connections as well as getting you through rough periods. These skills can continue being used even once everyone has completed therapy. In fact, these skills can be used not just with your family members, but can be useful in romantic, friendly and professional relationships, too.

How Does Family Therapy Work?

Family therapy is often useful when dealing with problems arising from struggling relationships within the family and can even assist in the reduction of symptoms like alcohol abuse or eating disorders. This type of therapy has been successful in treating various types of families in a variety of situations. These include:

  • One member of the family having a chronic substance abuse issue or mental illness
  • Teens and children having issues getting along with one another
  • Children with school or behavioral problems
  • Parents who are dealing with conflicts in their relationship


The skill set of the family therapist includes the ability to influence conversations in a way that emphasizes the strengths, wisdom and support of the wider system. The participating family members may work with another to mend bonds or strengthen the existing relationships.


Family therapy encourages the members of the family to communicate their needs and feelings in a better way, whether that is in a calmer or a more understanding manner. Communication and understanding is a two-way street, though. Along with voicing feelings and needs, there needs to be someone who is listening and responding to what is being voiced. Not just hearing and talking, but actively listening and effectively speaking.


  • Some of the techniques that are used in this type of therapy include:
  • Plans for the management of behavior
  • Behavioral exchanges
  • Psychoeducation — the education that is given to clients suffering from mental health conditions and to their families in order to both empower them and to allow them to deal with the specific condition
  • Skills for managing conflicts
  • Skills for communicating

Scheduling an Appointment

If your family is dealing with issues — like many families — realize that the longer you put off making an appointment, the worse those issues can become. Putting off scheduling an appointment could lead to a further breakdown in communication and familial bonds. Getting in to see a therapist is the first step on the road to a happier, healthier family unit. Call for an appointment today, 952-544-6806, or fill out our contact form.