How does exposure therapy help troubled teenagers

Family therapy

What is family therapy?

Family therapy has its roots in the USA in the 1950s. Even then, social workers and psychotherapists recognized that many patient problems need to be viewed in the context of the family. Because the social environment and, above all, one's own family have a significant influence on a person's health and psychological development. As a result, some experts began to involve the family in counseling or psychotherapy.

An independent direction of therapy - systemic therapy - has developed from family therapy. Because family therapy and systemic therapy are closely related, family therapists often have systemic therapist training. However, family therapy is not tied to one form of therapy. Behavioral therapists and depth psychological therapists also offer family therapies.

In family therapy, the therapist includes everyone who plays a role in the patient's healing process. The focus is not just on the family in the narrow sense of the word. The term family has expanded significantly through various constellations, such as blended families.

When do you do family therapy?

Family therapy is often used when a person's problems are directly related to the family. It is particularly important for children and adolescents to involve the family in the therapy.

The family has a significant influence on the development of children. Mental disorders in children and adolescents can be caused by dysfunctional family systems. For example, adolescents with eating disorders often have parents who themselves have a disturbed relationship to food, attach great importance to their figure or have high performance demands.

Therapy is not about blaming the family for problems. Rather, unfavorable interactions should be recognized and solutions sought.

Family therapy is also helpful when changes in the family system create problems. A family therapist supports the family, for example, in the event of divorce or if a new partner joins the family after the separation. Death can also upset the family balance.

What do you do in family therapy?

The family therapist is interested in the situation and feelings of each individual family member. He is non-partisan. This means that he tries to empathize with every family member without giving preference to any person. Through this attitude, he enables each family member to contribute his or her point of view and needs.

The procedure in family therapy differs depending on the therapy orientation. Despite the different approaches, there are some similarities in the process.

At the beginning of any psychotherapy, a trusting relationship must be established between the therapist and family members. An important topic in family therapy is communication between people. Often misunderstandings arise because needs are not clearly stated. The aim of therapy is to change communication and thus improve relationships in the family.

Behavioral family therapy

In behavioral family therapy, the focus is often on alleviating or curing a member's mental health problems. In contrast to individual therapy, the family is included in the healing process.

The therapist first informs the other family members about the psychological disorder of the person concerned. The family learns how poor communication patterns or behaviors can make the disorder worse. Together we search for available resources and solutions to the problems. In addition, the therapist teaches skills for good communication, stress management and problem solving.

Psychoanalytic family therapy

In a psychoanalytically oriented family therapy, the focus is on the relationships between family members. To understand family dynamics, the therapist will ask about expressed or unspoken blame.

Based on Sigmund Freud, current relationship problems are attributed to difficulties in the early parent-child relationship. These early conflicts can continue to the present day. The therapist works with the family to identify and resolve these conflicts.

Psychotherapies - this is how they work

  • Therapy: This is what awaits you

    Do you always lie on the couch during psychotherapy? What happens with behavior therapy? And how can splashing around with paint help to solve mental problems? Read here how the various forms of therapy work and what exactly to expect. This will help you decide which one is right for you.
  • Psychoanalysis: off to the couch!

    With psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freund developed the first therapy for all types of mental illness at the end of the 19th century. And it still works today! The aim is to dive deep into the soul, to dig up what has been buried - especially from childhood. The experience can be reassessed from the position of the adult. The analyst hardly intervenes, most of all he listens. He remains out of sight during the session - at the head of the bed.
  • Oedipus complex, superego, penis envy: excuse me?

    Freud developed many exciting concepts for psychoanalysis: for example, that the drive (called the id) and the inner moral authority (the super-ego) are constantly wrestling with one another. Ideally, the adult voice, the self, has the say. It is important to strengthen this in therapy. Still seems reasonable. The strong sexual imprint that Freud proclaimed is being questioned today: the Oedipus complex or penis envy are notions that now seem rather cute.
  • Depth Psychology: The Heirs

    In the meantime, more compact depth psychological procedures have evolved from the very time-consuming psychoanalysis. You still focus on working through past experiences in order to manage mental health problems. The therapist is much more active here, the healing process progresses faster. This helps with depression, anxiety and eating disorders or sexual problems, among other things. Nobody lies down on the couch anymore.
  • Behavioral Therapy: Roll Up Your Sleeves!

    Behavioral therapy tackles mental problems in a completely different way: It is more practical. The point is to uncover and question patterns of behavior and thinking that have been developed in certain situations and, if necessary, to replace them with more favorable strategies. This requires self-perception and the willingness to practice new behaviors. Works among other things for depression, anxiety but also addictions.
  • Systemic therapy: everything is interrelated

    Everything is interrelated - that is the core of systemic therapy. The approach originally stems from family therapy, where the suspicious child often only reacts to problematic family structures. Uncovering systemic entanglements also works for couples or in entire companies. With this approach you gain amazing insights and get astonishingly effective levers for change.
  • Exposure Therapy: Don't Be Afraid of Fear!

    Fear of spiders, people or the fear of flying - anxiety disorders can be tackled with a radical remedy: exposure or exposure therapy. In doing so, the anxiety is usually increased gradually. For example, watch videos of spiders first, then look at real specimens from a safe distance until you can finally pick up the eight-legged creatures. The experience that the fear will eventually subside is internalized and it keeps shrinking. Alternatively, there is the "massed confrontation": those affected are immediately exposed to the anxiety and, for example, brought to a crowded place or an airplane. That looks brutal, but it is effective. Affected people learn immediately that ultimately nothing will happen to them in the fearful situation.
  • Music Therapy: The Power of Sounds

    Music has the power to directly influence our emotions. Music therapy uses this property to release mental blockages, but also to positively influence the course of physical illness. It is usually used as a support for other therapies. There are very different approaches: passive, in which music is played, or active, in which the patient makes music or sings himself.
  • Art Therapy: Let It Out!

    Swinging a brush or carving a stone with a hammer and chisel: With artistic design you can often better express what it looks like in you than it would be possible with words. Encapsulated anger, hatred or fear can also be ventilated in this way. A subsequent joint analysis of the images often provides astonishing insights. Art therapy is usually used alongside other therapies - for example in inpatient therapy.
  • Gestalt therapy: discover and learn

    Gestalt therapy has nothing to do with artistic design in art therapy. The design here relates to one's own being. The form of therapy contains many elements from psychotherapy, but sees the client as a self-determined being who has the ability to develop further. The therapist acts as a partner at eye level who supports the person concerned in activating resources and thus coping with their problems independently.
  • Body therapy: healing the soul through the body

    Body and mind influence each other. Therefore, mental complaints can also be improved by working on the body. Body awareness exercises, breathing exercises and methods of coping with stress help, among other things. Special exercises should also help to dissolve mental blockages.
  • Psychodrama: Clear the stage for the soul!

    In psychodrama you play the main role in your own play. For this you need other players, so this is group therapy. Difficult situations and roles that are difficult to play can be tried out and varied in a playful way. You can also slip into the skin of the other person. The feedback from the other players helps to gain further knowledge.

Systemic family therapy

Systemic family therapists see an individual's problems as symptoms of a sick system. How the family members perceive and evaluate the situation and the other people plays an important role. The therapist encourages the family to question their observations and to adopt different perspectives. Through new perspectives, the family can solve stuck problems together.

Family counseling

In addition to family therapy, there is also family counseling. Family counseling is usually offered by social workers or educators. Some organizations offer free family counseling if you have problems. In family counseling you will find similar content as in family therapy when it comes to resolving conflicts.

Systemic family therapy and systemic family counseling are particularly close, as they often use the same methods. However, diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders can only be carried out by a trained psychotherapist in family therapy.

What are the risks of family therapy?

So far, no specific risks of family therapy are known. As with all psychotherapies, however, there is no guarantee that the therapy will be successful. In individual cases, the psychological situation can even worsen.

It can also happen that individual family members do not want to take part in psychotherapy. One should accept this decision. Because an important prerequisite for family therapy is that the family members are ready to work on the conflict situation. It is not always necessary for all family members to be present. Even if some family members have the will to change, this can already create a positive dynamic throughout the family.

Changes can also bring new challenges. When there is a dispute, many people tend to blame the culprit for the problem. It's a convenient solution that doesn't compromise your self-worth.

In family therapy, family members learn to take on more personal responsibility. According to the motto: "A dispute always takes two", the point is no longer to find someone to blame, but to see what you can change yourself.

What do I have to consider after family therapy?

After the family therapy session, you should take the time to process the content in peace. Give other family members this opportunity as well. In some cases, positive changes occur immediately as a result of the therapy. But changes often take time, as the dynamics in a family have often existed for many years and do not change overnight Family therapy let change.

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