3 Smart Reasons to Seek Out Family Therapy
The primary purpose of family therapy is to reduce tension and foster effective communication between family members. Family therapy differs from individual counseling in its framework and perspective, which sees problems as larger patterns emerging from group dynamics rather than one person’s issues alone.
Also, a “family” is not necessarily defined as a group of people who share DNA. Adoptive or foster parents or even anyone who provides consistent emotional support is considered family. Who your family members are is judged by function and intimacy, not blood.
A dysfunctional family relationship and home environment can make or break a person’s self-image and ability to show love and loyalty through their entire life. Family dysfunction often raises its ugly head from generation to generation. Therapy is one way to avoid recurrence of ingrained negative family patterns and break this cycle.
Of course, not all families are knee-deep in crisis. Some simply need support during times of acute stress. Often family therapy is sought out to help the family unit deal with the results of a specific major life event.
Family therapy is a useful tool in many situations, including:
Shared Major Life Trauma
Even the most “together” of families can use support navigating through a significant shared life event like death or divorce. It’s perfectly natural for family members to react differently during and in the aftermath of a crisis. Sometimes this can lead to alienation from other family members who don’t process their emotions the same way.
Family therapy is a proactive way to unify a family in the wake of a crisis while promoting empathy and understanding between all involved. Everyone deals with tragedy or a major upset in their own unique way. Family therapy can aid in fostering positive communication so all family members can deal and heal at their own pace.
Child Behavioral Issues
Behavioral problems in children are one of the most common reasons families seek out group therapy. A kid’s issues don’t exist in a vacuum. They originate from the family dynamic so they should be approached in that context.
The therapist’s goal is to reinforce positive behavior while improving compliance with parental authority. Once trust and a healthy child/parent bond has been established, stress is reduced for both parties involved.
If a child has a diagnosis of ADHD or another mental health problem, family therapy is a good way to provide much-needed information and support for caretakers and others living in the home.
A New Family Member
In most cases, welcoming a new member of the family is a happy time. But even the happiest of occasions, like the birth of a child, can also be a source of added stress. No matter how thrilled a child may be about a new sibling, it’s still a matter of having to share your space – and parents.
Blended families face their own specific challenges, as an autonomous family group has to learn to co-exist with another once independent family entity. A family therapist can help this new family unit set mutually acceptable boundaries so no-one has to wonder what’s acceptable behavior.
It’s more and more common for families to live in multi-generational households. Three generations under one roof can be very tricky. Family therapy can assist with spanning the generational divide to achieve optimum mutual understanding and respect.
Our family dynamics affect every aspect of our lives and determine how we see ourselves. Even if your own family wasn’t, or isn’t, the most positive, nurturing environment, that doesn’t mean you can’t can’t break the cycle of dysfunction in your own life and family.
If this is your goal, family therapy is a highly recommended way to achieve it.