What is systemic family therapy?

Healing the family as a whole

If one person in a family is distressed then this can have an impact on every individual, even if the impact isn’t always obvious or visible.

As well as temporary stresses, some families also carry ongoing, unresolved issues that can cause pain and confusion for everyone. If these aren’t deal with, then younger family members might even develop unhealthy behaviours and relationship patterns into adulthood.

Systemic family therapy can help with all of this, as it explores the various relationships in a family and how they affect everyone else. As all members of a family are interconnected, if one person experiences difficulties (such as mental or physical illness) then everyone else will be impacted in some way. And if one person goes through a big change (such as becoming unwell, losing a job or even recovering from addiction), then everyone will have to adjust their own role in response. This can cause stress, uncertainty and fear.

Systemic family therapy isn’t about blaming any one person for the issues in a family — instead, it looks at how every single relationship affects everyone else as a whole. For instance, a child who is labelled as having ‘behavioural problems’ might actually just be responding to the underlying stress or pain of a parent.

A systemic family therapist will explore the relationships in the group, looking at how each can be used as both a source of support and a force for change. In this way, every relationship can become more satisfying and fulfilling, leading to a healthier family life overall.

How does systemic family therapy work?


A systemic family therapist can help you to explore the individual roles in your family, find more effective ways to communicate and resolve ongoing conflicts. The therapist will meet with you all as a group and might also suggest individual sessions.

What can systemic family therapy help with?


Relationship & couple issues, child & teen issues, eating issues, anxiety, depression or low mood, bereavement, psychosis.

Your next step


Interested in systemic family therapy? Our compassionate and expert team of therapists are here for you.

You may also like:

Take your first steps

Explore our community of trusted, experienced therapists, and start your journey to feeling better.

My Therapy Assistant is not a crisis support service. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency do not use this site. please use these crisis resources.