Why is family therapy important? Family therapy is a core element of behavioral health treatment, mental health treatment and treatment for substance use disorders. It gives families the chance to work directly with mental health professionals to learn how chronic illness (such as substance abuse disorders or mental illness) impacts family structure and the individuals within the family unit.
It’s helpful for families to develop a better understanding of how family therapy works, the methods marriage and family therapists and counselors use and the benefits it can provide to the entire family.
What Is Family Therapy?
Family therapy provides individuals struggling with behavioral and mental health problems the space to explore and discuss their feelings with their loved ones. A family counselor or therapist curates a nonjudgmental, safe space for families to discuss difficulties and improve communication to find a way forward for the whole family unit.
Whatever an individual is going through, seeking therapy alongside loved ones can help all family members cope better with the situation and learn more about underlying causes and triggers. The goals of family therapy can range from developing healthy boundaries and moving beyond codependency to addressing family conflicts in a calm, constructive manner.
What Are the Types of Family Therapy Services?
There are a wide number of ways therapists can approach family therapy, depending on the issues at hand and the priorities of the participants. For example, a family seeking therapy for an eating disorder will receive different treatment than one seeking help for addiction.
Whatever type of issue requires attention, family counselors aim to solve conflicts, increase understanding of individual members and improve communication. Therapeutic approaches might include:
- Functional family therapy
- Transgenerational therapy
- Multisystemic therapy
- Brief strategic family therapy
- Structural family therapy
What Happens During Family Therapy Sessions?
Often, when major issues arise in a family group, communication and teamwork can break down, leading to more family problems. Some families may have inherited unhelpful modes of communication from older generations or never learned how to work together as a team instead of against each other.
To help resolve family issues and ensure you’re working as a team, family therapy brings you together in one room to:
- Discuss hopes and goals for the future
- Speak openly about feelings and experiences and listen to each other
- Outline values, needs, beliefs and assumptions for increased understanding
- Move beyond fault and blame to find constructive solutions and make positive changes
- Learn how words and actions can profoundly impact each other
- Support families as they move through the recovery process
How Many Sessions Are Recommended?
Family counseling sessions often last for between 45 and 90 minutes and take place every week, two weeks or month. Treatment may last for one month but could go on for as long as needed.
What Are the Benefits of Family Counseling With a Marriage and Family Therapist?
Addiction and other behavioral health issues can lead to knock-on effects that impact the entire family. Emotional problems, financial problems and other issues can impact the whole extended family, especially if professional guidance is never sought.
Below are some of the benefits you can expect when families work together with a therapist to move forward in a healthy, positive manner.
Improve Communication Between Members of the Family
The way we communicate with our loved ones has a profound impact on how we experience daily life. Bottling up emotions often feels like a way of saving other people’s feelings, but ultimately it leads to resentment and distance. However, ineffective strategies of expressing yourself can be just as harmful. Family therapy helps you learn how to express yourself in constructive, helpful ways.
Enhance Family Dynamics, Family Relationships and Family Bonding
It’s common for families to struggle with dynamics and bonding when children become teenagers or for spouses’ relationships to alter after major changes. Mental illness can further complicate these issues, but seeking therapy together can help you rebuild the family.
Education for the Entire Family
Substance abuse, eating disorders and gambling addiction aren’t signs of weakness, and they don’t make your loved one a bad person. Learning how behavioral disorders work can help families move beyond blame and judgment and learn the best ways to help the affected individual heal.
Improve Symptoms of Mental Health Conditions
Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression often occur alongside addiction for both the affected individual and their family. Therapy can help you learn coping mechanisms and recognize unhelpful patterns of thinking and behaving so you can move toward changes that lead to better outcomes.
How to Find a Good Family Therapist
Look for a family counseling professional who’s a certified mental health practitioner with a qualification in marriage and family therapy. They’ll construct a customized treatment plan according to your needs, be an excellent listener, ask lots of questions and be positive about reaching your desired goals.
If you’d like to learn more about the family therapy team here at Behavioral Health Centers, call today at 772-774-3872 or send an email.