The work with families nurtures 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.
A family therapist usually meets several members of the family at the same time. This has the advantage of making differences between the ways family members perceive mutual relations as well as interaction patterns in the session apparent both for the therapist and the family. These patterns frequently mirror habitual interaction patterns at home, even though the therapist is now incorporated into the family system. Therapy interventions usually focus on relationship patterns and may use instruments such as the genogram to help to elucidate the patterns of relationship across generations. The number of sessions depends on the situation, but the average is 5-20 sessions.
Depending on the conflicts at issue and the progress of therapy to date, a therapist may focus on analysing specific previous instances of conflict, as by reviewing a past incident and suggesting alternative ways family members might have responded to one another during it, or instead proceed directly to addressing the sources of conflict at a more abstract level, as by pointing out patterns of interaction that the family might have not noticed.
Family therapists tend to be more interested in the maintenance and / or solving of problems rather than in trying to identify a single cause. Using this method, families can be helped by finding patterns of behaviour, what the causes are, and what can be done to better their situation.