Family Systems Therapy

Family Systems Therapy (FST) is a method of therapy which is based on the concept that we are all made up of several components, and we are not in a rigid, permanent state. In this therapeutic modality, our mind is referred to as our inner family, with many techniques of family therapy being used on the individual. FST is a form of psychotherapy which is often used for a small group of people who intimately know each other, such as a family.
The core concepts consider both the individual family members and the system as a whole. Through this treatment, you will be encouraged to understand your relationship with the different parts of your mind and other people to create the full picture of your life.
The ultimate goal of FST is to rebalance your internal system, and to achieve harmony within your close social group. At the core of this theory, it is believed that you have multiple components within you. Navigating these can be positive and productive or destructive. Experiences, such as trauma, can push you from a healthy relationship with yourself and the world to an extreme position.
When this therapy is used in a family setting, it relies on the concept that members have intrinsic emotional ties. A disconnection from the family can occur due to trauma or mental health challenges, and this can destabilize the system externally and internally.

At Addcounsel, we use FST to address this disconnection and restore balance within your life, leading to an increased sense of wellbeing, peace of mind, and improved relationships.

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How Family Systems Therapy Works

This therapy modality is focussed on the idea that problems which arise for individuals or the family as a whole, are often a result of behaviour patterns within the family unit.
The goal of this treatment is to move the focus and responsibility from one individual who may be displaying the ‘loudest’ psychological distress, to the group as a whole and their family circumstances.

The core concepts of family systems therapy include:

This is in relation to an individual’s sense of identity and ability to function on their own, rather than as a member of a group. A person’s level of differentiation determines how confident they are in themselves and how much validation they need from others.
This refers to the relationship between three people – the smallest group number where behaviour can be observed and family systems therapy can be used.
Family Projection
This notion is concerned with the way in which parents transfer their worries, anxieties, or emotional difficulties onto their children. This process can often result in unstable emotions that result in high levels of anxiety or other challenging emotions.
Multigenerational Transmission
This refers to the pattern of individuals (typically subconsciously) seeking out partners who are similar to them in regards to differentiation which may then be passed on to any subsequent children.
Emotional Distance
This refers to the scenario where an individual or some individuals distance themselves from another family member to ease tensions. This can have the opposite effect and increase tensions and anxiety within the family group.

How Family Systems Therapy Can Help You

Family Systems Therapy has a wide-ranging client group. It is a model which can be used to treat an array of conditions and difficulties within the family unit. It is common for families or individuals to use FST if one family member has been experiencing symptoms of a mental health disorder and they are willing to look deeply into the causes of this. It could also be beneficial for you if you are living with a condition such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, suicidal ideation, or an eating disorder. In addition, it can also help families with a diagnosis of a disability within the family.
FST supports families during these challenging times by helping each member recognise their own feelings and anxieties, as well as those around them. Families can choose to enter this mode of therapy together, allowing all members to feel heard and supported, or you can approach it on your own.
FST can support families if there are unresolved conflicts affecting the family dynamic, for example if a child is displaying difficult behaviour and parents disagree about how to parent.

Some typical family goals may include:

  • Understanding and recognising behaviour patterns
  • Improving family function
  • Increasing communication
  • Reshaping dysfunctional relations
  • Strengthening bonds and resilience

Generally there are shared goals which all families who undergo FST will incorporate into their therapy process, and there will always be individual, specific goals as per the uniqueness of each family unit.
The more general, shared goals of all Family Systems Therapy relate to improving communication and addressing dysfunctional behaviour patterns, whereas unique goals address the individual needs of a specific family such as mental health diagnoses, substance use disorders, or trauma.

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Improving your relationship with your family almost always starts with how you see yourself. Enact the change you want to see in your relationships and seek support today. Family Systems Therapy is a brilliant way to delve deeply into the patterns and behaviours which are contributing to strained family dynamics, and to find productive coping strategies.

We have a fantastic team of therapists who are committed to finding a happier, healthier future for you.

We are proud to be London’s leading clinic and most exclusive clinic. We provide the best residential treatment setting for individuals to recover from a range of mental health conditions and addictions. You’ll get to heal in perfect privacy in our luxurious settings, tended to by the world’s leading experts. Recovery is a challenge but it doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.

Get in touch with Addcounsel to discuss how Family Systems Therapy can help you today at +44 (0)203 709 3968 or email us at

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Whether you’re worried about yourself or a loved one, our team would like to answer any questions you may have about treatment. Call our care team today to find out more about our treatment modalities and have all your questions answered