In family therapy, the focus is on the solving of problems rather than in trying to identify a single cause. Emphasis is on what goes on between people rather than in people. In other words, therapy interventions stress relationship patterns rather than analyzing impulses of the unconscious mind or early childhood.
Typically, family interaction patterns that the family might have not noticed are pointed out and different ways of responding to other family members is suggested. These changes in the way of responding may then trigger reper-cussions in the whole system, leading to a more satisfactory systemic state.
Within a solution-oriented approach and focus on helping couples to develop immediate skills in working on problems, they first describe existing issues from their own perspectives.
After determining how long the problems have existed and what has/has not worked in the past, the goals and expectations each partner has for counseling is determined. A plan for tackling the problems is formulated and any questions the couple have about counseling or about the problems are answered. Optional 'homework' assignments are presented for the couple to do between sessions.
Couples learn how to:
- distinguish between types of issues
- recognize typical patterns for handling disagreements
- set procedures for managing conflicts
- combine talking and listening skills, and
- clarify values and desires for selves, their partner, and the relationship.