Why is family therapy so important and what makes it different from
other forms of psychotherapy?
According to recent research (see the Harvard Grant Study),
our intimate relationships are the single most important factor in
our lives. Warm intimate relationships help us to feel gratified,
successful, happy, and protect us from harm, both physical and
emotional. No matter how anxious, sad, or angry we may become,
our intimate relationships, if they are healthy, can ease the pain and
restore us. Family therapy recognizes this fact.
Family therapists are trained to understand how intimate
relationships can go awry and are trained to help get them back on
track. We understand that nearly all problems stem from either the
lack of intimacy, toxicity in relationships including many types of
violence, loss, or over-reliance on one or two others for all emotional
I have been working with these principles for nearly 25 years and
haveseen, first hand, that individuals with diagnoses such as
depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD have been able to heal
significantly by improving relationships with other important people in
their lives such as parents, husbands, wives, and children.
Where as many psychotherapists use the DSM to diagnosis their
clients, giving them a label that can follow them for a lifetime, family
therapists look at relationships and work to improve them. The DSM
does not look at problems in term of relationships. It assumes that all
problems are "individual" and originate inside the client/patient. This
There are many articles, TED talks, books, and films that
demonstrate why family therapy is such an important way of helping
ourselves and our clients. Here is a sampling:
Happiness Is Other People by Ruth Whittman: https://nyti.ms/2iIoOzO.
This provocative article talks about how research demonstrates our
need for connection with others and our perplexing behavior in
pursuing solitary activities.
Triumphs of Experience by George Vaillant. A wonderful book about
the Harvard Grant Study which over the course of 75 years has
demonstrated that warm intimate connections are more
important than any other factor in leading a gratifying life!
TED talk by Robert Waldinger:
A short video about the Harvard Grant Study. Why our connection to
others is the most important factor in leading a successful and
TED talk by Eleanor Longden:
This wonderful TED talk is about how psychiatry was a terrible
mistake for a young woman who heard voices and how her mother's
love and community saved her.
Read books and articles by Sal Minuchin, Cloe Madanes (especially
"Remembering Our Heritage") Maurizio Andolfi, Carl Whitaker, David
Keith, Peggy Papp.
Why Family Therapy?