A family therapist is someone who asks questions that reflect an understanding of systems. For example, instead of seeking to blame, uncover ‘unconscious’ dilemmas, or ‘fix’ someone, the family therapist will ask questions about the patterns within the family. How does this problem exist? What has the family already tried to solve the problem? How is the problem talked about?
Jay Haley, a founding member of family therapy once said, ‘you can never not be communicating’. Even through silence and distance, emotional interactions within the family are taking place.
Thing is, usually the person in the most pain or frustration is the one to reach out for help. Even if you were to begin therapy on your own, a family therapist will be skilled in bringing in your family relationships. Often times as we take steps to change ourselves, relationships around us will begin to change.
I hope this answered your question. You also asked about locating a family therapist. One way to do this is to visit the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists website, or AAMFT. This will provide you with a list of qualified and licensed family therapists in your area. Please let me know if you have other questions.
It sounds as though you really want relationships in your family to change. I, too, gravitated to family therapy because of events and relationships within my own family. I wanted answers to my questions!
I congratulate you on taking the first step toward changing things for your family.
*C. Scholtz, (2012) http://www.myshrink.com/family-therapy-issues.php