Family and Individual Therapy Modalities

Subject: Psychology
Pages: 4
Words: 884
Reading time:
4 min
Study level: College


Modalities are agents of factors that have an impact on a patient. These modalities are employed by therapists in directing the perspectives of their clients or patients. The choice of therapy is dictated by the type of client and the particular issues affecting the client. A single modality approach is generally more effective than an integrated approach.


Individual and family therapies are approaches that can be employed in the treatment and understanding of human behavior. Individual therapy tends to take a concentrated focus and entail internalization of personal dynamics. On the other hand, family therapy tends to take an external focus. This paper will analyze the two approaches and highlight the cases that each modality can be implemented. The paper will then demonstrate that integrating the two modalities does not lead to the best results.

Individual Therapy

Individual therapy, also referred to as psychotherapy, entails a mutual process between the therapist and client that aims at improving quality life and facilitating change. This therapy is necessary in confronting barriers that interfere with an individual’s emotional and mental stability (Lambert, 2013).

Individual therapy is designed to resolve psychological problems associated with factors such as feelings, experiences, behavior, self-actualization, history, and growth of an individual. In addition to treating specific diagnosable mental conditions, individual therapy can be employed in treating issues related to everyday concerns, which may affect the mental wellbeing of an individual.

Family Therapy

Family therapy focuses on the relationship between members of a family and how they interact with each other. Unlike individual therapy, it looks at the problems that individuals exhibit within the context of the important relationships in the life of the person. Family therapy is concerned with the family unit as a social component. Its main objective is to enhance mutual understanding and emotional support among relations and ensure that the family functions well at different levels.

This therapy also aids the family in coming up with problem solving strategies on various dilemmas and situations that they might encounter. This is based on the understanding that although the family can be a source of support and stability, it can also bring about distress and conflict. Making use of family therapy enhances the ability of the family members to cope with the challenges inherent in the family unit. The therapy serves to prevent behavioral difficulties that may arise, including mental breakdowns.

Types of Clients and Client Problems Best Suited for Each Modality

Each of these therapy modalities is best suited for certain types of clients. Family therapy is best suited for problems experienced by children and married couples. Research indicates that children experiencing depression are likely to benefit from family therapy.

Ferdinand, Heinonen, Pesonen and Almqvist (2012) elaborate that family therapy is helpful for children since most life events and chronic stressors are embedded in the family context. Couples are likely to benefit from family therapy since the problems they experience are linked to their relationships with each other. Family therapy is designed to help the family members to acquire the tools necessary to cope effectively with problems that occur within the family context.

Individual therapy can be used to tackle problems that affect the individual, such personality issues and substance abuse. Patients who have personality disorders, anxiety disorders or drug dependency issues can benefit from individual therapy. Through individual therapy, the therapist is able to identify the problem and propose the best treatment option for the individual.

Triston, Crane, Moore and Eggett (2013) reveal that individuals suffering from substance use disorders benefit from individual therapy that is structured to promote habit change. Individual therapy also promotes behavior change in adolescents who have eating disorders. Individual therapy achieves the best results in such cases since the professional is able to promote a strong therapeutic alliance by focusing on adolescent developmental issues and decreasing blame (Lotempio, 2013).

Integrating Individual and Family Treatment

To accrue the benefits of the two modalities, some mental health care professionals make use of both models concurrently. While such a mixed approach is feasible, it does not lead to the best outcomes for the patient. To begin with, mix therapy modalities are expensive for the patient as they might require more sessions than if only one modality was used. Cost considerations might result in the patient failing to complete the integrated therapy treatment. Crane and Payne (2009) declares “using a single complete model of relationship therapy may be superior to combining models of treatment” (p.14)

The efficacy of an integrated approach is low, suggesting that this model is inferior to a single model approach. Crane and Payne (2009) document that the recidivism rate is highest when individual and family therapies are integrated. This shows that patients do not benefit the most when different modalities of therapy are used simultaneously. Since the goal is to restore the mental health of the patient, a single model is preferable.


This paper set out to analyze the individual and family therapy modalities in order to show how each might be used to promote mental health. The paper has shown that the two modalities serve an important purpose in restoring patient health. While it might be tempting to mix the two in order to maximize the benefits to the patient, a single approach is more effective at a given time.


Crane, R., & Payne, S.H. (2009). Individual versus Family Psychotherapy in Managed Care: comparing the Costs of Treatment by the Mental Health Professions. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy 37(3), 273-289.

Ferdinand, G., Heinonen, K., Pesonen, A., & Almqvist, F. (2012). Depressed youth: treatment outcome and changes in family functioning in individual and family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 34(1), 4-23.

Lambert, M. (2013). Bergin and Garfield’s Handbook of psychotherapy and behavior change. NY: Wiley.

Lotempio, E. (2013). Patients’ characteristics and the quality of the therapeutic alliance in family-based treatment and individual therapy for adolescents with anorexia nervosa. Journal of Family Therapy, 35(1), 29-52.

Triston, M., Crane, R., Moore, A., Eggett, D. (2013). The cost of treating substance use disorders: individual versus family therapy. Journal of Family Therapy, 35(1), 2-23.