Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy that involves all members of a nuclear family or stepfamily and, in some cases, members of the extended family (e.g., grandparents). A therapist or team of therapists conducts multiple sessions to help families deal with important issues that may interfere with the functioning of the family and the home environment.
The goal of family therapy is to help family members improve communication, solve family problems, understand and handle special family situations (for example, death, serious physical or mental illness, or child and adolescent issues), and create a better functioning home environment. For families with one member who has a serious physical or mental illness, family therapy can educate families about the illness and work out problems associated with care of the family member. For children and adolescents, family therapy most often is used when the child or adolescent has a personality, anxiety , or mood disorder that impairs their family and social functioning, and when a stepfamily is formed or begins having difficulties adjusting to the new family life. Families with members from a mixture of racial, cultural, and religious backgrounds, as well as families made up of same-sex couples who are raising children, may also benefit from family therapy.