Family therapy is similar to couple therapy, but it includes other family members in addition to the couple, usually a child of special concern or even all children within the nuclear family.
Because an emotional problem in one family member may be a symptom of a larger family problem, family therapy is often used as a method of treatment to identify those forces that may be contributing to the problem in that individual.
Family therapy is based on the concept that each family is a unique system with its own structure and patterns of communication. These patterns are determined by a multitude of factors, including the personalities of all family members and the influences of extended family members, whether present, or absent, deceased, or alive.
In other words, family therapy focuses on communication patterns within the family that are often dysfunctional by identifying and resolving overt conflict within the family while addressing the underlying issues that may have existed through the previous generations. In this way, all family members learn new ways of relating to each other while resolving existing conflicts that cause emotional dysregulation and troubling patterns of relating.