What is Systemic Therapy? (The Pros and Cons)

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Published Date|
April 13, 2024

What is Systemic Therapy? (The Pros and Cons)

Challenges involving other people, from couples to families, can feel impossible to deal with.

You know you can only control your own behaviour, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when other people’s behaviour has a direct impact on you.

These dynamics can leave you wondering whether a form of therapy that involves everyone would be the best fix for the problems you’re facing - and systemic therapy can often be a great choice to help improve your relationships.

But how do you know if it’s the right choice for you?

Here at KMA Therapy, we’re relationship experts. For over 15 years, we’ve helped our clients and community learn about the different types of therapy available and feel empowered to choose a great fit for them.

After reading this article, you’ll know what systemic therapy is, its pros and cons, and how to know if it could be the right fit for you.

What is Systemic Therapy?

Systemic therapy explores how the issues you’re facing in your life are influenced by your personal relationships and your interactions with others.

It is based on the idea that your issues aren’t only impacted by your personal thoughts and actions, but are also influenced by the larger context of the systems you’re a part of - from your family to your community.

In systemic therapy, a system refers to any group of two or more people who want to learn how to function better together.

While it’s most commonly used to help families, systemic therapy approaches can also be used to help groups from sports teams, to couples, to co-workers.

Systemic therapy can help with issues like:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Anger management
  • Communication and relationship issues

What Happens During Systemic Therapy?

During systemic therapy, you’ll focus on exploring unhealthy relationship dynamics and understanding how to change them and move forward.

Unlike other forms of talk therapy, systemic therapy doesn’t focus on your past or your history - it’s focused on helping you improve your communication, find solutions to the problems you’re facing, and ensure your “system” is able to run smoothly.

During systemic therapy, your therapist will help you:

  • Learn problem-solving skills
  • De-escalate conflict situations
  • Reframe problems you’re facing
  • Explore how to build boundaries
  • Deepen your understanding of yourself
  • Develop a stronger understanding of communication
  • Change any negative core beliefs you hold about yourself
  • Feel more hopeful and confident about the relationships that make up your “system”

systemic therapy pros and cons

The Pros of Systemic Therapy

Systemic therapy can be a great way to help couples, families, and groups learn how to support each other and run more cohesively.

If you or another member of your “system” is struggling with a mental health issue, systemic therapy can be a great way for all members to learn effective coping skills and explore how to get what they need out of the relationship dynamic.

Systemic therapy can be a great choice if:

  • You’re looking for a solutions-oriented approach
  • You want to learn more about your role within your system
  • You’re interested in learning problem-solving and communication skills

The Cons of Systemic Therapy

Systemic therapy can be a great way to help a system run more smoothly - if everyone is willing to make a change.

Systemic therapy may not be the right choice if you’re interested in exploring how past situations are influencing your present thoughts and behaviours during therapy.

Systemic therapy may not be the right choice if:

  • You want the privacy of one-on-one sessions
  • You’re interested in exploring your past in therapy
  • Other members of your system are unwilling to go to therapy or you think it would be healthier for you to focus on yourself during therapy

Alternatives to systemic therapy include narrative therapy, a strengths-based therapy which can help you explore the narratives you and your system hold about yourselves and each other, and cognitive behavioural therapy, which can help you learn how to challenge and change negative beliefs and thought patterns.

Next Steps for Beginning Therapy

After reading this article, you know what systemic therapy is, its pros and cons, and how to know if it could be a good option for you.

Here at KMA Therapy, our expert team is here to help you have healthy and fulfilling relationships. Visit our Family Therapy page to learn more about your options.

Register online to connect with our team today or download our free Therapy 101 Guide to explore how therapy can help you.

If you’d prefer to keep reading, check out these related articles:

Author |
Emily Weatherhead (Guest Author)
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