Family, Marital and Individual Therapy

Family therapy is a branch of psychotherapy that works with families and couples in intimate relationships to nurture change and development. It tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members. It emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health.  

The different schools of family therapy have in common a belief that, regardless of the origin of the problem, and regardless of whether the clients consider it an "individual" or "family" issue, involving families in solutions often benefits clients. This involvement of families is commonly accomplished by their direct participation in the therapy session. The skills of the family therapist thus include the ability to influence conversations in a way that catalyses the strengths, wisdom, and support of the wider system.

Family therapy is also referred to as relationship counseling, couples therapy, couple and family therapy, marriage and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling.

Relationship counseling is the process of counseling the parties of a relationship in an effort to recognize and to better manage or reconcile troublesome differences and repeating patterns of distress. The relationship involved may be between members of a family or a couple (see also family therapy), employees or employers in a workplace, or between a professional and a client.

Couples therapy (or relationship therapy) is a related and different process. It may differ from relationship counseling in duration. Short term counseling may be between 1 to 5 sessions whereas long term couples therapy may be between 12 and 24 sessions. An exception is brief or solution focused couples therapy.

In addition, counseling tends to be more 'here and now' and new coping strategies the outcome. Couples therapy is more about seemingly intractable problems with a relationship history, where emotions are the target and the agent of change.  

Marriage counseling or marital therapy can refer to either or some combination of the above.  The methods may differ in other ways as well, but the differences may indicate more about the counselor/therapist's way of working than the title given to their process. Both methods also can be acquired for no charge, depending on your needs. For more information about getting the care that may be required, one should make a call to a local hospital or healthcare professional.

Psychotherapy is therapeutic interaction or treatment contracted between a trained professional and a client, patient, family, couple, or group. The problems addressed are psychological in nature and can vary in terms of their causes, influences, triggers, and potential resolutions.  Accurate assessment of these and other variables depends on the practitioner's capability and can change or evolve as the practitioner acquires experience, knowledge, and insight.

Givers and takers:
clinical biopsychological perspectives on relationship behavior

Robert A. Moss Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital


To date, limited progress has been made in advancing a comprehensive biopsychological model to explain behavior patterns in human relationships. This paper describes such a model. A simplified description of a theory of cortical functioning is presented, followed by a discus- sion of two patterns of human relationship behaviors that are explained within the context of the model.

A comparison of the current model and the dominant Big Five model of personality traits is then briefly discussed. Conclusions focus on the need for future research to determine the effectiveness of a clinical biopsychology approach, including the accuracy of the relation- ship patterns.