Like a fine machine, the family is composed of many delicate, interconnected parts. Often, stressors for this fine unit cannot be pinpointed or addressed in isolation thus calling for the treatment of the unit as a whole. In the field of psychotherapy it is believed that often one member of the family may be the symptom holder for a stressor that is troubling the entire family unit. To treat only this member is like treating the symptom of a disease but not the disease itself. It is possible that if the symptomatic person is treated but the family is not, another member of the family will become symptomatic next. This cycle might continue until the problems are examined and treated as a whole.
For example, in a single family the seven year old may suddenly be refusing to be apart from mom while his 14 year old sister is sneaking out. If we look at this family in parts, we may believe that we are dealing with a boy with separation anxiety and a teenager with oppositional behavior. But if we step back and look at the unit completely, we may see that mom has been severely depressed since the death of her own mother eight months ago; that sister is dealing with the death of a beloved grandmother and an emotionally withdrawal of mom by escaping; and that our seven year old fears that if he lives mom she will disappear (die) too. Suddenly, we have a unit engulf in grief and coping in isolation. In such a case, I would highly recommend Family Therapy.
In Family Therapy, members will be able to evaluate the beliefs and customs of their family unit, have a chance to hear the experiences of every member regardless of age, collaboratively problem-solve, have the opportunity to practice new skills within the confines of the session and apply these news skills in the real world, improve communication, come to own responsibility for their actions, and discover that they have a support system within each other.