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.
In a therapy session, therapists seek to analyze the process of family interaction and communication as a whole and do not take sides with specific family members. Therapists who work as a team can model new behaviors for the family through their interactions with each other during a session.
Family therapy is based on family systems theory, in which the family is viewed as a living organism rather than just the sum of its individual members. Family therapy uses systems theory to evaluate family members in terms of their position or role within the system as a whole. Problems are treated by changing the way the system works rather than trying to fix a specific member. Family systems theory is based on several major concepts.