• Family Systems Therapy

    When families are broken or strained, a psychotherapist relies on family systems therapy to help them heal. Through this type of therapy, families can address problems that each member is experiencing.

    Family members grow in awareness of how patterns formed in the family are based on the parents’ beliefs and values, the family members’ personalities, and the influence of the extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins).

    Family Systems Therapy, Counseling, and Services, Leslie Terner, Chevy Chase, MD

    What is family systems therapy?

    Family systems therapy holds that every member of the family is inseparable from the other family relationships. If you have a problem, it is evidence that the family has a problem.

    In traditional individual therapy, the person’s inner psyche is the focus as they work toward making changes in relationships. In family systems therapy, the problems are seen in a broader context. When one family member changes their behavior, it will influence how the family functions overall.

    The types of family systems therapy are:

    Structural family therapy involves discussing family relationships, behaviors, and patterns in order to evaluate the structure of the family. Role play is one method to help therapists understand the family dynamics.

    Strategic family therapy is focused on family communication or problem-solving patterns. Examining problem scenarios and reframing them is one strategy for creating change in the family, without extensive ongoing therapy.

    Intergenerational family therapy focuses on differences between generations on both the family and the individual members. This process helps each family member see how their problems are rooted in previous generations.

    Over time, family systems therapy helps families understand:

    • How their family functions
    • How early years impacted relationships between members
    • How each member’s change or problem affects the entire family
    • How to resolve problems through new strategies
    • How the family can handle conflicts and changes differently
    • How to develop the family’s strengths

    What happens in family therapy?

    With this type of therapy, family members examine their past relationships in order to understand their present situation. They view relationships over several generations to understand how members were influenced and to gain perspective.

    During therapy sessions, the psychotherapist focuses on the family’s strengths to help them handle their problems. Each family member takes responsibility for problems, but some family members may need to make more changes in their behavior.

    Through family systems therapy, members can benefit from addressing many issues — roles, expectations, communication, parenting, grief and loss. Families in the blending process may need help with their emotional connection — establishing and maintaining it. When you learn how your family affected your self-esteem, you will become more relaxed in your relationships.

    Family members can also learn strategies to change their interactions. They can learn how to break negative habits like constant arguing. A psychotherapist can provide techniques that can be easily applied to switch the focus and disrupt the argument — easing the tension, and stemming the hostility. If one partner makes a goofy face, for example, the climate changes and both people laugh. The negative spell has been broken.

    Over time, through this process, each family member learns how to become a more flexible person — in relationships, work and school settings. This skillset is valuable in every aspect of life, to create a more satisfying life.

    Contact the office

    To find out more about Family Systems Therapy Services, contact Leslie Terner’s office located at 5480 Wisconsin Avenue Suite LL8 Chevy Chase, Maryland 20815. Leslie Terner provides Family Systems Therapy counseling in Chevy Chase, MD, and its surrounding areas.

    Book an appointment by calling 301-718-1758
  • Our Location

    5480 Wisconsin Avenue
    Suite LL8
    Chevy Chase, MD 20815


    Mon-Thu 12:00PM-8:00PM
    Sat: 12:00AM-5:00PM
    Fri and Sun: Closed


    (301) 718-1758


    (301) 718-1767

    About Leslie Terner, MS, PMHCNS, BC

    I am a Certified Psychiatric Mental Health Clinical Nurse Specialist in Chevy Chase, Maryland. I have been in private practice since 1999. I help clients to heal and gain insight into why they have developed their behaviors.