Family therapy: Everything you need to know


Life can throw curveballs, conflicts arise, and tragedies may happen. It can sometimes be hard to handle these situations without the support of a professional and trained professional, such as a family therapist. Most families struggle with whether or not they need family therapy. 

The overall objective of family therapy is to help to improve relations between relatives, foster or strengthen connections, and bring positive change. This form of psychotherapy usually benefits the lives of some people, but you still need to maintain a good understanding of family therapy and what is involved. This article discusses family therapy.

Understanding family therapy

Family therapy refers to a type of psychological counseling offered by a licensed marriage and family therapist or a clinical social worker. It can help your family resolve conflicts, improve communication, or navigate difficult times like the loss of your loved one or even a divorce. But unlike individual counseling, which believes that problems reside within you, family therapy views challenges as systems of patterns that require to be adjusted. 

You should note that family therapy refers to a framework or perspective for handling issues that come within the context of family relationships. Family is about blood relatives and can also include any person who offers you long-term support. Therefore, improved family relationships can help to reduce family conflicts and tensions as well as improve your mental health. 

People choose family therapy for a wide range of reasons. Some can want to have family therapy because they may have some family issues they desire to be resolved, which usually increase due to communication failure. Others can want to improve their relationship with some family members, such as a mother, parents, adolescent daughter. Remember that some families experience traumatic events like loss or divorce that need the help of a family therapist to work through the emotional effect. 

Also, some families seek support of a family therapist to help them cope with a person struggling with drug abuse or a mentally ill family member. As you can see, there are various reasons why you should seek the services of a family therapist. Therefore, if you are looking for this type of help, click here.

When a family member has a serious addiction or mental illness, family therapy usually offers an extra form of support alongside other types of specialized treatment for an individual who is struggling. For instance, if you have a relative with a serious mental illness like bipolar disorder, then family therapy may help you cope better as a unit, but the person with bipolar needs to continue taking their medications, participate in their individualized treatment, and see a therapist one-on-one.

Likewise, if your loved one experiences an addiction problem, you can decide to have family therapy to offer extra support. And, the affected individual needs to participate in residential treatment. In most cases, families usually participate in family therapy even if the person with substance use disorder is yet to seek treatment.

Preparing for a family therapy

It’s a good idea to ask your doctor or even other primary care provider for referrals to therapists. Friends and family members can also offer recommendations based on their experiences. Alternatively, you may also ask your clergy, employee assistance program, local or state mental health agencies for opinions for therapists. 

Before you decide to schedule sessions with a therapist, you need to figure out whether or not they can be a good fit for your family. Also, you need to find a couple of things from the potential therapists. This includes their education and experience. A good therapist also needs to be licensed and should be accredited by some reputable professional organizations. They should also have specialty training in family psychotherapy. 

It also makes sense to find out their location and availability. This means that you need to know the location of their offices, their office hours, and their availability in case of emergency.

You should also find out the length and number of sessions. Keep in mind that the length of sessions can vary depending on the therapist you choose. Also, you need to know the frequency of the scheduled sessions and the number of sessions you need to expect.

You should note that family therapy usually brings different family members together for a therapy session. But you can also decide to see a family therapist yourself. Sessions can take between 50 and 60 minutes. Family therapy is usually short-term, and it can have about 12 sessions. But this can depend on the number of times you see your therapist and the number of sessions you may need. Also, the length of time can also depend on the specific situation of your family and the recommendation of the therapist.  

During family therapy, you can check your family’s ability to express emotions and thoughts productively as well as the ability to solve problems. You can also explore family rules, roles, and behavior patterns when it comes to identifying problems that contribute to conflict, and ways to solve these issues. Above all, you can identify the strengths of your family like caring for one another as well as weaknesses like difficulties in confiding in one another. 

For example, your son can have depression and you may not understand his depression or even how best to support him. There is a chance that you may be worried about the wellbeing of your son, but conversations with either your son or other family members lead to arguments and you feel angry and frustrated. Communication diminishes, family members avoid one another, decisions go unmade, and the rift increases. In this situation, you need family therapy.

You need to tell your family therapist your specific problems and how your family is dealing with them. You can then learn new ways to help you to interact and overcome negative patterns of relating to one another. You should know that family therapy may not automatically solve your family conflicts, but it may assist your family understand each other better, and it can offer some set of skills to help you to cope with challenging situations effectively.

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