Family therapy can involve any two or more members of a nuclear family or extended family. I see two common scenarios in my practice. The first involves parents and a ‘misbehaving’ teen. The second involves either two adult siblings, or a parent and adult child who have a desire to heal old disagreements and forge a better relationship. While these are the most common, I have also seen other interesting configurations, including step-families, and multi-generational families.
Systems Theory is the model I keep most in mind when working with families. The basic idea is to keep the focus on how the system works, rather than on any one individual. Therapy may cause behavioural changes by one member which results in resistance, often unconscious, by other members of the family. Family therapy helps expose the often hidden rules by which the family operates and helps create healthier styles of relating.