Each family is a unique entity. Since families are comprised of individual human beings, everyone brings something different to the mixture. Understanding this is the heart of family dynamics, the patterns of relating between family members. While every family is unique, all families display both helpful and unhelpful patterns of family dynamics. The strength of family dynamics, whether healthy or unhealthy, has a tremendous impact on the individual, especially during formative years.
Some forms of psychotherapy seek to understand and work within the family dynamic. Family Systems Therapy, for example, views problems in a holistic manner, and understanding how families work, through the complex web of relationships and communication patterns, is the key to solving problems. Behavioral problems, especially in children, are therefore not necessarily the result of the individual, but a product of the family dynamics within the unit.
There are a number of things that influence family dynamics. The relationship between parents, their discipline style, the number of children within a family, their distinct personalities, the presence of chronic illness, or problems with drug and alcohol abuse can all affect the family's dynamics. Family therapists will seek to understand all sides of an issue when attempting to help solve problems that may arise.