All families have their own set of worries and troubles in life. It’s within the family unit that children learn about themselves, and it’s also where they can prepare themselves for adulthood. By spending time together, every member understands, identifies, and empathizes with each other’s needs and feelings.
Over the years, the definition of the word “family” has evolved. The term is no longer confined to DNA, blood, marriage, or adoption. Now, it encompasses all the close relationships that you believe formed the foundation of your life, for instance, the relationship you have with your best friend.
What Is Family Therapy?
Family counseling therapy is a type of psychotherapy that can help improve communication and conflict resolution strategies of family members. Through this, the entire family learns how to strengthen their connections especially during stressful times.
Family therapy is often given by a psychiatrist, clinical social worker, or licensed therapist. These professionals are degree holders and affiliated with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).
Family counseling is individualized to suit the family’s current situation. It’s used to sort out troubled relationships between partners, children, and extended family members.
Family therapy can address major issues such as financial problems and parent-child conflicts. It can also aid in treating the negative effects of addiction and substance abuse or even a mental illness affecting the entire family. Sessions can include either all the family members or only those who need to participate.
Different Types of Problematic Families
A blended family is formed when two separate families decide to live under one roof. An example of a blended family is when a parent with children marries another person who has children as well. Eventually, this couple will have children together, which results in half-siblings.
This arrangement becomes more complicated when the couple’s ex-partners are involved in co-parenting their children. Family counseling can help them find ways to voice out their concerns, if any, and form harmonious connections with one another.
Disconnected families are characterized by each family member’s excessive use of mobile phones and interactions in the virtual world. Technology has made this type of family disconnected from each other.
Quality time seems unimportant to such families. The family members would prefer connecting with other people online rather than talking with the person right beside them. When they constantly fail to communicate with one another, family counseling would be helpful.
Family counseling encourages individuals to unplug themselves from their gadgets. The family counselor can then guide the family in sparking conversations in order to reconnect together.
Goals of Family Therapy
When misunderstandings happen due to lack of communication or family members struggling to open up, problems can occur in the home. In therapy, the role of each family member is clearly defined, and everyone is given the freedom to express their concerns at home. When there’s open communication, the family will find it easier to solve problems and brainstorm as one unit.
Deal With Family Conflicts
One of the goals of family therapy is to identify and give solutions to the problems of the household. Those issues could be emotional, psychological, or behavioral. Because of therapy, family members can better cope with difficult situations and learn to support each other.
Create a Better and More Functional Home Environment
Some families that don’t have ongoing issues also seek the advice of a family counselor. They go to therapy with the desire to improve their relationships and discover more bonding opportunities they can take advantage of. Parents can find out how to come up with activities that everyone in the family would enjoy regardless of age.
How Can a Family Member Benefit From Family Therapy?
The effects of family therapy may differ from one family to another. In general, however, your household may experience the following:
- Establishment of healthy boundaries
- Improved family communication
- More defined role for each family member
- Better family dynamics
- Knowledge of coping skills
- Fewer dysfunctional interactions
- Improved family problem-solving abilities
- Treatment options for mental health issues
Family therapy can be useful for:
- Sibling conflicts
- Inconsistent parenting
- Marital problems
- Developing healthy family relationships after divorce
- Adjustments to major changes in the family
- Dealing with death or chronic sickness in the family
Types of Family Counseling
Family counseling approaches are based on family systems theory. This suggests that a family works in systems, meaning they’re not a group of individuals functioning independently. If there’s a change in one member, the other members are also affected.
Here are the different counseling approaches used in family counseling:
Functional Family Therapy
This type deals with households that have children with complicated emotional or behavioral issues. Functional family therapy will provide family members with learning strategies for managing a child’s behavior.
Multisystemic therapy focuses on the broader behavioral and emotional problems of children. Going through this therapy may improve your child’s interaction in school and within the community.
This involves the examination of interactions across generations, particularly between parents and children. Transgenerational therapy aims to comprehend how communication between different generations can cause problems in the family.
Brief Strategic Family Therapy
Brief strategic family therapy aims to change interaction patterns within the family that may lead to challenging behaviors among children and young adults. It targets family conflicts that manifest in children.
This therapy involves a time-limited intervention that generally lasts for 12 sessions. The therapist will give the family homework so they can work on how they handle communication within the household.
Problems that result from the family structure itself are addressed in structural therapy. The idea of this therapy is based on the notion that the emotional and behavioral concerns of children could be linked to dysfunctional family structures.
Usually, the therapist will start by creating a map of the hierarchy in your family. This’ll show who exactly has the most authority as well as the boundaries within the family.
Structural therapy’s goal is to achieve balance and functionality in the family hierarchy. Another objective is to establish boundaries between family members.
In family therapy, the family is educated on different mental health problems that might be affecting family dynamics and relationships.
A recent study concluded that when a family is educated about mental health, the functionality of the family as a whole improves. In another study, families that are more knowledgeable about mental health conditions can give better support to each other. With this option, family members with mental health conditions could improve their perspective in life and eventually get better.
Importance of Family Therapy to Mental Health
You begin and end your day at home. So if you experience problems both at home and at work, then you should do something about it to protect your mental health.
Whenever you feel stressed and troubled, it’d be advantageous for you to have a family that’s ready to comfort and support you. However, this would be difficult should you have misunderstandings at home.
Through family therapy, the family can become whole again. Children are the first ones affected when there’s family trouble, and any issues they deal with would impact them well into adulthood. That’s why parents should take the first step in getting therapy as soon as possible.
A therapist needs to come into the picture to ensure that the family is intact. They can help improve the family’s relationships and encourage them to reconnect. In due time, you’ll be able to sleep and wake up every day knowing that your family is happy and supportive of one another.
Expectations of Family Members
In family therapy, each session may take 50 minutes to one hour. It’s often short-term with approximately 12 sessions. However, family therapies are individualized, so the number of sessions required will differ depending on your family’s circumstances and the therapist’s recommendation.
At the start of therapy, the marriage and family therapist will discuss the main problem that brought you to therapy. Each member of the family will be given the chance to voice out their sentiments related to the issue at hand. As the therapy progresses, your therapist will be able to form a picture of your family dynamics according to the following:
- Family history
- Family roles
- Parenting styles and discipline approaches
- Coping strategies used
Your family therapist wants to solve the family problem. It’s not their intention to blame anybody for it as doing so would defeat the purpose of the therapy. Afterward, the therapist will come up with a treatment plan that best suits your family.
At the end of family therapy, expect that each member of the family would be asked to set personal goals as well as ways on how they can be better members of the family. At the same time, the whole family needs to set objectives that they should work on together.
Paying for Family Therapy
The cost of family therapy may vary depending on the type of therapy, the therapist’s qualifications, the therapist’s location, and the duration of the sessions.
First, you have to check with your therapist if they accept your insurance. There are some family therapists that prefer to receive private pay. You can also ask your insurance company for a list of healthcare providers that accept their plans.
Medicare can cover family therapy sessions that focus on mental health treatment. But take note that you have to work this out first before starting your therapy to ensure a smooth sailing treatment.
Looking for a Good Family Therapist
Research is important when you’re looking for a family therapist you can trust. It’s important to consider all possible choices. Here are some of the ways you can narrow down your options when choosing a healthcare provider:
- Ask for recommendations from your family doctor.
- Ask for suggestions from friends and colleagues.
- Check the therapist’s qualifications and credentials.
- Meet with the therapist to sense if they are perfect for your family.
- Determine the proximity of the therapist’s office to your home and workplace.
- Find out if the therapist offers online mental health services.
- Check if the therapist accepts your insurance.
Marriage and family therapists are state-licensed professionals who are trained in psychotherapy for couples and families alike. They’re required to accomplish two years of clinical fellowship. See to it that the one you go for has the skills and education to provide you and your family with excellent services.
Of course, undergoing family therapy may not solve family issues right away. Healing and understanding as a family can be a long process at times, and it continues even after therapy.
Through family therapy at Counseling Now, your entire family can achieve a greater sense of togetherness. We’re here to improve the physical and mental health of all the members of your household.
Counseling Now offers online family therapy services as well. This way, you don’t have to leave your home to get the best possible treatment. Our mental health services administration is here to provide you with all the assistance you require. To start your journey toward more loving and rewarding family relationships, book an appointment with Counseling Now!