About Family Therapy

Systemic Approaches and Practice

Systemic approaches draw from communication and relational theories to develop an understanding of patterns of interactions and how systems work. A system can be any group of people that are interconnected such as families, working teams, members of a community, school, etc. Professionals trained as systemic and family psychotherapists are able to work in many different contexts. They often work in therapy services but are also skilled in working with groups, teams and with management structures in organisations.

A systemic approach considers that individuals cannot be understood in isolation from the contexts in which they are part of. As such, the approach pays particular attention to significant relationships, culture and the belief systems that give meaning to a person’s actions. It is a thought-provoking approach and has a focus on building strengths to facilitate helpful changes. Above all, it is a respectful, nurturing and appreciative approach.

Family therapy interventions are usually informed by systemic approaches and theories. It is important to note that the title of “family therapist” is not protected in the UK. As such, some therapists trained in other therapeutic approaches (e.g. psychodynamic, behavioural, person-centred, etc.) might do family sessions and call themselves “family therapists”. Therefore, when looking for a family therapist, it is important that you find out more about the therapist’s training and qualifications, as well as their professional registrations to ensure that you are clear what approach inform their practice.