The difference between Family Therapy and Psychology

What is the difference between Family Therapy and Psychology? Is one a subset of the other? No.

Psychology was born in America in the mid to late 1800’s.  It views problems as residing with individuals and attempts to explain why people behave in ways that they do.  The field is rich with research and has offered the public many explanations as to why things are (or should be).

Family Therapy was also born in America in the 1950’s and coincided with divorce rates increasing to the 50th percentile.  Family Therapy is different than Psychology in the way that it does not consider that the problem lies within the individual. Instead, it tries to find solutions within relationships developed in the individual’s system.  It is called “systemic therapy” because it looks outwards instead of being introspective.

Family Therapists can treat individuals the same way a Psychologist can, but it will question whether it is better to look at the relationships of the individual. The therapist might ask you to bring a member of your family or your whole family into a session.  It is different because for so long we have believed that the problem can be fixed if only one person gets the treatment.  While it is possible to treat people individually, it is more effective to look at how they relate to others in their system.

A traditional Psychologist might work on changing emotions before you can change behavior.  You might turn towards yourself and reflect, increasing insight.  They might focus on the past to understand the present.  This is why clients can sometimes be in therapy for years (or decades).

Family Therapist is different.  We might work on your behavior first and turn towards others, increasing action and direction.  Clients can sometimes come for one session or stay for a little longer, but it is generally brief.  We focus on the present because that’s what needs to change.

Action must be taken for changes to occur.  For more understanding on how Family Therapy can help you, read this explanation from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

You can also schedule a 15 minute free call to see if we are a fit for each other.

I hope I have an opportunity to work with you.

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