Systemic therapy is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on how an individual’s relationships, behaviors, feelings, and life choices relate to the issues or struggles they may be experiencing. The name comes from systems theory, which explains that parts of a system, or whole, work to influence and impact the entire organization. 1
Family therapy is a subset of systemic therapy that works specifically within the family unit and how individuals in the family can impact the family. Systemic therapy techniques and practices are utilized within family therapy, but systemic therapy does not have to be used solely for families. Systemic therapy is also utilized for individuals and groups for various mental health or substance abuse disorders. 2
Just as family and systemic therapy are different, systemic therapy works differently than other forms of therapy. Systemic therapy specifically looks at how the parts of an individual influence the whole and may look at multiple mental, psychological, and emotional issues. Other forms of therapy will generally only focus on one aspect the patient may be struggling with to mitigate symptoms or mental health issues.
Systemic psychotherapy utilizes various techniques to help patients work through conflict, trauma or other symptoms of mental health or substance abuse disorders. Some of the most common techniques include circular questioning, conceptualization, and reframing. These will be detailed below. 3
This technique aims to have participants think about various topics being discussed relationally while also inviting them to refocus their thoughts in a way that allows them to truly discuss the matter. This is often used in family therapy to have members discuss issues that one or many members may be having. It also aims to have people explore multiple aspects of an issue.
Conceptualization helps the therapist put a client’s symptoms or problems into a new context so they and the patient can work through the issues in a new way. It explores how a patient is part of a larger community than themselves.
Reframing works to help an individual realize how they may view themselves or others and then offer another perspective to expand their overall viewpoint.
Systemic therapy is beneficial for multiple patients and conditions. It aims for patients to fully understand the scope of their symptoms while realizing how particular issues can influence their lives. For example, someone who struggles with substance abuse might come to understand how their depression or anxiety could impact other aspects of their life as well.
Systemic therapy is also most utilized for the following purposes:
There are various other conditions or illnesses that systemic therapy is beneficial for as well. Studies have shown that certain aspects of systemic therapy psychology can help families who have someone that has presented with autism spectrum disorder. 4
Some systemic family therapy interventions don’t work for every family, meaning therapists may have to work through multiple techniques to ensure systemic therapy works for each unit.
Systemic psychotherapy has many varied benefits for patients. Most notably, which allows individuals the ways that their emotional life and choices can impact not only them but others around them as well. It can provide insights into why patients may be feeling or experiencing certain emotions, leading to a better understanding of their overall sense of self.
Additionally, a systemic approach to therapy allows the patient to work through issues or relationships that may not have been easily understood or talked through with other forms of therapy, such as general talk therapy.
Systemic therapy has been shown to be effective for patients with many disorders, mainly mental health disorders. Many patients have also reported getting a lot out of systemic therapy, as it offers new ways of approaching topics. Some research has shown that systemic therapy worked particularly well for adult patients who presented with anxiety or other mental health illnesses. 5
It has also been shown to be effective for younger patients as well. For children and adolescents, systemic therapy is successful for those diagnosed with anxiety, Asperger’s, co-occurring disorders, and in some cases, those who have experienced childhood neglect. 6
If you or a loved one want to start systemic therapy, it can be difficult to know where to begin. First, it’s important to find a recovery center that is versed in systemic therapy practices and has therapists readily available. Genesis Recovery has a variety of programs and therapists available to help those with substance abuse or mental health disorders.
Before deciding to start systemic therapy, however, there are a few things you or your loved one should consider:
Depending on your type of insurance, many types of insurance will cover systemic therapy under their plans. It’s best to check with your provider or each recovery center before starting therapy. Also, Medicaid and Medicare will work differently for each insurance provider.
Contact Genesis Recovery today if you or a loved one experience substance abuse or a mental health disorder. We have licensed counselors who will work with you every step during recovery, and our supportive and highly-skilled staff will help you heal from various symptoms.
Reach out today to begin your wellness journey.