Family therapy is a form of talk therapy specifically targeted at resolving issues between family members Thus, it can be an effective way to seek support for families looking to improve their relationships and overall family dynamics. It has been proven to be effective in dealing with various issues, such as emotional issues, depression, grief, etc. While family therapy has been helpful for many, it may not be a perfect fit for all families. This article will look at a few situations in which family therapy might not be appropriate. 

  • Lack of Commitment

One of the most common misconceptions about therapy is that it is supposed to work and make people feel better immediately or within 1-2 sessions. However, like other forms of therapy, family therapy requires time and commitment from all the members involved. If a few members are unwilling to participate in sessions, family therapy might not yield the best results. Lack of commitment from one or more members might even lead to emotions such as frustration or anger among other members, affecting the relationships adversely. In such cases, individual therapy for each member or group therapy might be more effective. 

  • Resistance To Change

Family therapy relies on the active participation of all family members, with each person being accountable for their actions and open to making positive changes. If a family is unwilling to reflect on their dynamics or engages in blame without acknowledging their own roles, family therapy might not be effective. Addressing this resistance may require additional support, such as individual therapy or workshops focused on family relationships. A successful outcome of family therapy depends on the equal participation of all members. Expecting some members to change while others are unwilling to make changes will result in no progress

  • Violence Or Abuse 

Family therapy works best in an open and safe environment where all members feel comfortable talking about their issues without feeling judged. However, if family members respond to each other’s concerns with invitation, anger or violence, the safety of the therapy space is compromised, leading the therapy work to be ineffective. Family therapy might also be ineffective in cases of domestic abuse within the family. In such cases, individual therapy may be helpful for family members to learn coping skills. Once they can cope with difficult emotions, they can be more open to family therapy.

  • Underlying Mental Health Issues

Sometimes, family issues stem from underlying individual challenges that need to be addressed separately. If a few family members are suffering from unresolved personal trauma and unresolved issues, family therapy might act as a trigger for these unresolved emotions. In this case, supplementing family therapy with individual therapy might produce better outcomes. Apart from this, family therapy might not be appropriate if one or more family members are suffering from psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia or personality disorders, as these conditions require individual attention and sometimes may require medications as well.

  • Differing Goals To Seek Therapy

Family therapy is most effective when all family members are on the same page regarding what they want to achieve from the therapy process. However, if each member has different goals from therapy or does not agree with the methods and changes suggested by the therapist, the therapy process might not be effective. Thus, it is important to have a few common goals in mind before considering family therapy.


While family therapy is an effective way to improve family dynamics, it might not be appropriate for all families. Recognizing scenarios where family therapy might not be effective is crucial to deciding if you should consider it for your family. Family therapy might not be effective if there is a lack of commitment among family members or if there are issues like violence, abuse or underlying mental health conditions within the family. Alternatives such as individual therapy or group therapy might be more effective in these cases.

Want to learn more about family counselling? Click here to check out our article on the process and the benefits of family counselling


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Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin