Family-Focused Therapy: How Does It Help?

October 04, 2016 at 4:48 AM

Family-focused therapy is a type of psychotherapy that is very much like it sounds: it focuses not only the person with a mental health challenge, but also his or her family as well. This allows the therapist to leverage the strengths that the family already has in helping the person with the mental health challenge. Family-focused therapy has been shown effective in helping people with bipolar disorder, those dealing with palliative and bereavement issues, eating disorders and others. Family-focused therapy may be particularly useful in the cases where the person with the mental health challenge is a child or teenager.

Family-focused therapy is a general term but within this therapy there may be a focus on psychoeducation (learning about mental illness and its ramifications), cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy (learning about how people interact in relationships) or others.

Family-focused therapy is known to be useful as if one person in a family has a mental health challenge, it tends to affect everyone in the family. This therapy will not only help the person with the mental health challenge but also around them, too, which will aid in his or her recovery. If the person is suffering from a serious mental illness, family-focused therapy as well as medication-based therapy together it typically superior to either one alone.



Kissane et al, Family Focused Grief Therapy: A Randomized, Controlled Trial in Palliative Care and Bereavement. 2006.

Miklowitz et al, A Randomized Study of Family-Focused Psychoeducation and Pharmacotherapy in the Outpatient Management of Bipolar Disorder. 2003.

Pavuluri et al, Child- and Family-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Pediatric Bipolar Disorder: Development and Preliminary Results. 2004.


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