Are you worried about the wellbeing of members of your family and/or your family as a whole? Does family life feel increasingly chaotic and hard to manage? You might have a child who is being disrespectful, using drugs, failing in school or not coming home at night. Maybe you have a depressed or mentally ill family member. Or, perhaps someone in your household is suffering from a disease or physical ailment that requires everyone to help out. Do you feel like you don’t have an equal say in what happens in your home? Are you having marital problems that are impacting the family dynamic? Do you wish you could all get along together, support each other and feel close and connected?
Almost All Families Bump Up Against Challenges
Numerous life circumstances can upset a family dynamic. Often, families come in because they have one or more teenage children who are acting out or breaking family rules. Your child may be getting bad grades in school (or skipping school entirely), bullying, engaging in promiscuity or being generally disrespectful. He or she may be depressed, anxious or angry no matter what you do. You may be wondering what happened to your sweet and obedient youngster and where this rebellious, moody and lethargic teenager came from. And, you may feel powerless because you don’t know how to help your child.
Marital discontent is another source of family tension. You may feel like you aren’t an equal partner in your marriage or relationship. Your might think your partner is too controlling or doesn’t appreciate all the hard work it takes to keep the household running smoothly. When mom and dad aren’t getting along, it’s glaringly obvious to the children, even if you think it isn’t. Parental division lets kids know they can manipulate the system, which only leads to more problems.
Perhaps you have a family member with a mental or physical illness that requires time and effort on everyone’s part to deal with. Whether the afflicted family member is having a “good day” or a “bad day” affects the whole family. On good days, you may feel a little more hopeful. But, depending on the frequency of the bad days, it can feel like your family is always in crisis mode. Remember, it is often difficult for adults to deal with these kinds of circumstances, and it’s even harder on children. Their brains are not fully developed yet, and they aren’t capable of the same level of reasoning skills that adults are.
When one family member is struggling, he or she may get more attention than the others. This can make other family members feel ignored or unimportant, and perpetuate other underlying issues. It may breed resentment or anger, which, if left unaddressed, can fester for years.
If your family is experiencing discontent, you are not alone. The good news is that with the help of an experienced, compassionate therapist, you and your family can work through challenging issues and create more harmony in your home.
Family Therapy Can Help You Understand Each Other Better
Almost every family goes through a transition or crisis at some point. There are births, deaths, marriages, illnesses and countless other circumstances that affect the interpersonal relationships within a family system. Family therapy can be a useful tool during these times.
In family therapy sessions, you can learn to communicate with one another more effectively and how to make sure that everyone feels heard. I can help you all listen to and respect each other’s feelings in a calm environment, so you can observe what that feels and looks like. And, you can learn what healthy boundaries look and feel like and establish them within your home. During our time together, everyone has an equal voice. Every person in the family is important and plays a vital role, not just one or two people.
Family therapy can also help you reconnect as a family on a spiritual and emotional level. There are things you can do to create more closeness, such as having meals together or scheduling time for fun activities or trips as a family. Family is a place where you should feel safe and connected, but this doesn’t come as naturally for some families as it does others. Just like a successful marriage takes effort, a successful family does, too. Establishing family time from the get-go is an important first step to creating a tighter bond with your loved ones.
I’ve worked with hundreds of families over the years, and have seen some common threads that connect them. First, how you feel and react directly affects your family members. Also, many people think their family members could never understand or relate to what they are going through—but your family might surprise you if you give them a chance! Finally, it’s important to share your struggles with one another. As a unit you can support and empower each other in ways you haven’t even thought of.
Family woes can be overwhelming—like something you were born into and can’t escape. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can be the one to start changing things. With help and support from an experienced family counselor, you can have the happy family life you dream about.
You may be curious about family therapy, but still have some questions and concerns…
We are all so busy. It will be hard to get everyone together for family therapy.
Schedules can be demanding, but if you really want to fix the family dynamic as quickly as possible, it’s important to make counseling a priority. It is much more challenging to find satisfying outcomes in family therapy if you are not consistent with sessions.
Family therapy is usually set up on a weekly or biweekly schedule, which is necessary in order to make consistent, sustainable progress. With dedication and a willingness to engage in the family therapy process, your family can make meaningful changes and connect on a deeper level.
Some family members won’t participate in family therapy.
In cases where some family members are not comfortable attending, we start with whoever is willing to participate and go from there. Often, once the resistant person(s) sees others are coming to sessions, making progress and getting along better, he or she will reconsider.
Is this really going to make a difference for our family?
Simply put, yes. If you are skeptical, I’d be happy to meet with you individually to talk about how family therapy is based on a concept that problems that happen in families affect everyone. When the dynamic is unhealthy, it affects everyone in a different way and contributes to the group’s problems as a whole. Making your family dynamic healthier improves everyone’s interactions in terms of communication, respect and understanding, and allows you to excel as individuals as well. Family therapy makes interacting with your family members a better overall experience. Plus, you can apply the skills you learn here to other real life situations as well.
Do you still have about how family therapy works? Call for a free 15-minute consultation. I’m happy to discuss your family’s needs and answer any questions you have about my practice and approach.