Family-based therapy (FBT) aims to provide families with a support system with the tools they need to address mental health and related conditions successfully. This treatment strives to support families through challenging life events as well as changes to prevent mental health difficulties among children.
FBT is a model of psychotherapy that involves the whole family, emphasizing working together. This therapy is significantly more intense than is generally available in outpatient treatment since parents are encouraged to join the treatment team.
In residential and partial hospitalization programs, FBT is one of the therapeutic approaches used to help children recover from their eating disorders.
The goals of FBT are to:
- Help children and families cope with problems that interfere with their functioning as a family unit
- Improve communication within the family
- Improve relationships among family members
- Help parents understand how they contributed to their child’s eating disorder symptoms
- Enhance parenting skills
What Problems or Needs Does Family-Based Therapy Address?
FBT addresses a range of issues, including
- Anxiety, depression, and ADHD symptoms
- Adjustment disorders in children or adolescents
- Parenting skills issues such as discipline and conflict resolution
- Mental health problems such as anxiety or depression
- Behavioral issues at school or in the community
- Stress management after a traumatic event (such as an accident or natural disaster)
Who Provides Family-Based Therapy?
An individual who provides FBT is known as a family therapist. These are professionals licensed by their state to practice. They have degrees in family therapy and have passed an exam demonstrating they have all the skills necessary to work with families.
Some benefits of family-based therapy include the following:
Addresses the Root Causes of Problems.
It helps identify and address the underlying issues within a family that may contribute to a child or adolescent’s mental health.
Includes the Entire Family
This type of therapy helps you recognize that mental health problems are not resolved in isolation. The therapist includes the whole family in the treatment to deliver the best possible solution.
FBT focuses on the strengths and resources of the family rather than just the problems.
Provides a Sense of Empowerment
This special therapy empowers families to take an active role in their own treatment, which can help them feel more in control of their lives.
FBT can help families improve communication, leading to better relationships and problem-solving abilities.
Improves Quality of Life
FBT can improve overall functioning and the quality of life of family members by reducing stress and conflict. It also fosters more positive relationships., which can lead to better outcomes for everyone involved.
How FBT Treats Eating Disorders in Kids
The main focus of FBT for eating disorders is on the family rather than the individual. Therefore, the therapy involves the parents and the child or adolescent. It is based on the idea that the family plays a critical role in developing and maintaining the eating disorder.
FBT for eating disorders typically includes three phases:
- Weight Restoration Phase: This phase focuses on helping the child or adolescent achieve a healthy weight. Parents are taught to provide structured meals and snacks and monitor the child’s weight and eating habits.
- Maintenance Phase: This phase focuses on helping the family establish healthy eating patterns and prevent relapse. Parents continue to provide structured meals and snacks, and the child or adolescent begins to take more responsibility for their own eating.
- The Autonomy Phase: This phase focuses on helping the child or adolescent gradually take more responsibility for their own eating and weight management while the parents gradually decrease their involvement.
FBT for eating disorders is effective in helping children and adolescents achieve and maintain a healthy weight and improve their overall mental health. It also helps parents better understand their role in their child’s eating disorder and gives them the tools they need to support their child’s recovery.
All-in-all, it can be concluded that Family Based Therapy empowers families, parents, and children with the right tools and techniques to manage symptoms, including self-harm behaviors and crises at home or in the community.
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