Is Family Therapy Right for You?
Is family therapy right for you? If a conflict or hard circumstance has put a strain on your family in any way, it just may be. It’s important to explore all your options, but before trudging on through the uncertain waters of self-help, take a step back and consider calling on a professional for guidance. Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that aims to reduce distress and conflict by improving the systems of interactions between family members. Here are a couple of factors to consider when deciding if family therapy is the right move for you and your loved ones.
Who is Family Therapy For?
Family therapy is most obviously known to bring parents, siblings and extended family members such as aunts, uncles and grandparents into the treatment process. However, “family” is defined by the modern family therapist as anyone who plays a long-term supportive role in one’s life, which may not mean blood relations or family members in the same household. The family system has its own structure and patterns of communication, which may be defined by parenting style, personalities and other influences. Thus, family therapy is an ideal counseling method for helping family members, or any loved ones you consider to be family, resolve conflict or adjust to a difficult struggle like addiction, medical issues or a mental health diagnosis.
How Do You Know It’s Time to Go?
If your family is going through a tough time — whether it’s from stress, anger, or grief – family therapy can make a difference for the better. It can help couples, children, or members of an extended family learn to communicate better and work through conflicts. While it can be very useful in resolving a family conflict, it can also be instrumental in other ways, such as developing and maintaining healthy boundaries, fostering communication among family members, promoting problem solving through understanding, and building empathy. Some common reasons families seek family therapy include:
- When a child is having a problem with school, substance abuse, or disordered eating
- A major trauma or change that impacts the entire family (i.e. relocation to a new house, natural disaster, incarceration of a family member)
- Unexpected or traumatic loss of a family member
- Adjustment to a new family member in the home (i.e. birth of a sibling, adoption, foster children, a grandparent entering the home)
- Domestic violence
- Parent Conflict
Who Attends the Sessions?
Family relationships are viewed as important for good mental health, regardless of whether all family members are participating in the therapy. While family therapists often hope to have all family members affected by the problem in the room, that is not always possible or necessary. What distinguishes family therapy from individual counseling is its perspective or framework, not how many people are present at the therapy session. Because of this nature, it may include all family members or just those able or willing to participate – your specific treatment plan will depend on your family’s situation.
How Can You Do It Online?
In our hectic, modern world, it can be difficult to schedule around the lives of everyone involved or affected by your family’s issue. Especially in times of crisis, it can be difficult to physically make an appearance in a counselor’s office. For these reasons and many others, online family therapy can work as an effective bridge. Meredith O’Brien is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New Jersey, working with her team of affiliate mental health clinicians to provide family therapy sessions in a nurturing environment to help families to achieve treatment goals. During the COVID-19 pandemic, they will be offering 100% virtual sessions by phone and/or HIPPA compliant ZOOM. Click here to set up your first telehealth appointment.