Like the human body–where individual parts interact to make up a system (e.g. muscular) that further interconnect with other systems (e.g. skeletal, cardiovascular) to make up a whole body–an individual’s well-being is also systemic and made up of interconnections.
For example, a person struggling with depression may be having difficulty as a result of different reasons. It could be a chemical imbalance in the brain that is hereditary; it could be due to past traumas suffered as a child; it could be the result of grief and loss over a divorce or the death of a loved one; or it could be a combination of two or more of these factors.
A systemic approach to therapy recognizes the interconnected and relational nature of mental health. Systemic therapists assess, diagnose, and treat individuals, couples, and families from an integrated and holistic perspective. A family’s patterns of behavior can influence the individual’s well being and therefore may need to be a part of the treatment plan.
In the United States and Canada, the systemic approach to mental health has been championed by the field of marriage and family therapy (MFT), a licensed mental health profession. Currently, there are over 50,000 licensed marriage and family therapists in North America, and the profession has been identified as one of the top 50 most promising professions from 2010-2012 by US News and CNN Money. The same discipline is also referred to as Systemic Psychotherapy in the United Kingdom [link] and is growing internationally.
At Rekindle, our clinicians work as a team according to different specialities to provide coordinated assessment and treatment for the different parts of the system. For example, in a troubled family system, the husband and wife could be receiving marriage therapy from our marital specialist while the teenage son receives talk therapy with our teen specialist and the 8 year-old daughter works through her emotions through play therapy with our child specialist. If medication may be helpful for any one particular individual, our clinicians provide referrals to the appropriate medical specialist for medical or pharmacological treatment. Where necessary, one or more family members may be referred to one of our clinical psychologists for psychological testing.
When the couple begins to improve, the entire family could come together for family therapy sessions with our family specialist to learn how to function healthily as a whole family system. At a later stage, one member of the family may return to receive life coaching or executive coaching services from our coaching specialist to help her or him improve performance at home or at work.