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Embracing Family Therapy: A Holistic Approach to Mental Wellness

Blog - A Closer Look at Family Therapy in MA

At Atlantic Behavioral Health Center, we understand that mental health is deeply rooted in our relationships and environments. This is why we champion Family Therapy, also known as Systemic Therapy, as a cornerstone of our treatment programs. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the multifaceted world of family therapy, exploring its origins, various approaches, and proven benefits in addressing a wide range of mental health concerns.

Understanding Family Therapy: Its Origins and Approaches

Family therapy, emerging in the 1950s, has evolved significantly, reflecting diverse family structures and relational dynamics.1 Unlike traditional therapy that focuses on individuals, family therapy views problems within the context of relational systems, offering a more holistic approach to healing.

Various Approaches in Family Therapy: Techniques and Focal Points

  1. Structural Approach: This method, developed by Salvador Minuchin, emphasizes family structures, particularly hierarchies and boundaries within relationships. It aims to reshape family dynamics to foster healthier interactions by challenging rigid boundaries and restoring hierarchies.2
  2. Strategic Systemic Therapy: Based on the work of Jay Haley and others, this approach focuses on changing behavior patterns that maintain problems. It uses tactics like reframing perspectives and encouraging new behaviors to break cycles of dysfunction.3
  3. Milan Systemic Approach: Pioneered by Selvini Palazzoli and her team, this style employs circular and reflexive questioning to understand and transform family members’ perceptions and interactions, moving away from blame and focusing on positive intentions.4
  4. Narrative Therapy: This approach, influenced by the work of Michael White and David Epston, assists families in creating and evolving new interpretations of their experiences, fostering a shift in perception and behavior.6
  5. Psychoeducational Approaches: These approaches combine behavioral interventions with educational elements, aiming to inform family members about mental health conditions and effective response strategies.7
  6. Behavioral Family and Couple Therapy: Viewing the family as a health-enhancing resource, this therapy focuses on observable behaviors to encourage positive family dynamics, using specific behavioral change strategies.8

Evidence-Based Effectiveness of Family Therapy

Extensive research underscores the effectiveness of family therapy in treating a myriad of conditions. Studies show its positive impact on schizophrenia, depression, alcohol dependency, conduct problems in children, and drug misuse. Particularly notable is its success in treating adolescent anorexia nervosa and psychosis, with family interventions significantly reducing relapse rates and improving medication compliance in schizophrenia.9

The Holistic Benefits of Family Therapy in Today’s World

In today’s complex world, marked by socio-economic challenges, racial unrest, and post-pandemic stress, family therapy offers more than just symptom management. It provides a space for relational healing and understanding the interconnectedness of our personal and communal lives. This approach helps unravel the deeper roots of mental health issues, fostering resilience and adaptive coping mechanisms within families and communities.10

The Need for Family Therapy in Modern Mental Health Care

Despite its proven effectiveness, family therapists represent a small fraction of mental health professionals in the USA.11 This highlights a significant gap in addressing relational aspects of mental health. At Atlantic Behavioral Health Center, we prioritize this modality, recognizing its integral role in comprehensive mental health care.


At Atlantic Behavioral Health Center, we are committed to providing a comprehensive approach to mental health care. Family therapy is a vital component of this approach, offering transformative benefits for individuals and families navigating the complexities of mental health. Embrace the journey of relational healing with us, and discover the profound impact of family therapy on your path to wellness.

Is Family Therapy right for you?


  1. What issues can family therapy help address? Family therapy is effective in treating a range of issues, including relationship conflicts, behavioral problems in children and adolescents, mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, and coping with life transitions or trauma.

  2. How long does family therapy typically last? The duration of family therapy varies depending on the specific needs and goals of the family. It can range from a few sessions to several months.

  3. Is family therapy suitable for all families? Family therapy can be beneficial for a wide range of families, but its suitability depends on the willingness of family members to participate and engage in the process.

  4. Can family therapy be done alongside individual therapy? Yes, family therapy can complement individual therapy, offering a more holistic approach to treatment by addressing both individual and relational dynamics.

  5. How does family therapy differ from individual therapy? While individual therapy focuses on the person, family therapy views issues within the context of family and relational dynamics, addressing the interactions and patterns that contribute to the problem.

Want to learn more?

Call us today to learn more about Family Therapy and how this type of therapy can be effective for many of the behavioral health issues we treat.

Interested in Speaking with someone from our team?

Call us today to learn more about our IOS Psychiatric Day Treatment program and how we may be able to help you or a loved one dealing with mental health concerns. 

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