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Family is a tricky thing. At the same time, it can be our greatest resource and our biggest stressor. It can offer us belonging or make us feel ostracized. When a family is at its best though, it is one of the most valuable things we have.

Sometimes families need outside help to be at their best. Enlisting a therapist to guide your family to that place can be a hard decision, but one that will ultimately serve your family in the long run. Any initial resistance from family members will soon be forgotten as your home gains a sense of harmony.

Engaging in therapy is proven to help families overcome mental and behavioral health challenges and can bring peace to individuals and your family as a whole. Read on to find out why you should start family therapy and how it works.

What is family therapy?

Family therapy as a practice stems from Family Systems Theory, developed by Dr. Murray Bowen. Dr. Bowen posited that family functions as an interconnected web and a change in one part result in changes throughout.

Family therapy uses talk therapy to treat both individuals and the entire family unit. Anyone in the family can attend, whether or not they live in the same household or are blood-related. Families may seek services targeted at one member of the family, but treatment will require participation and growth from everyone.

Does family therapy work?

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), family therapy provides better life outcomes to participants. Some specific benefits include reduced rates of rehospitalization, lessened psychiatric symptoms, decreased stress and greater consistency in taking prescription medication.

Additionally, for those struggling with substance use, SAMHSA reports that family therapy supports individuals in remaining in treatment, reduces rates of relapse, and supports long-term recovery.

Moreover, a 2019 study found that structured family therapy resulted in less internalizing and externalizing behaviors for adolescents in treatment programs as well as high satisfaction rates and healthier parenting practices.

The evidence is clear; family therapy works, and it can work for your family, too.

How does family therapy work?

Family therapy sessions are led by a licensed mental health professional on a regular basis, typically weekly or bi-weekly. Like one-on-one therapy, there will be a treatment plan and the family will have goals for an individual, the entire family unit, or both.

Like any group therapy, a family will first develop norms for conduct during sessions, such as not interrupting and listening respectfully. The session may focus on one person or the family as a whole, depending on the presenting concern.

The therapist will ask questions and promote conversation between family members. The therapist will pick up on a lot of important information during early sessions, such as communication patterns, dynamics between individuals, and the role each person plays in the family system.

Based on these conversations and observations, the therapist will implement specific therapeutic techniques to address the family’s presenting issue. A vast variety of frameworks and exercises will contribute to how the treatment is executed, but they will all be aimed at the goals in the treatment plan.

Does family therapy help the whole family?

Although many families seek out therapy in an effort to benefit one individual member of the family, everyone can profit from participating in family therapy. According to SAMHSA, family members benefit from healthier family interactions, reduced stress, improved child behavior and better family connection to the community.

In addition to these benefits, a family will come away from family therapy with better relationships. Often, a counselor will point out communication patterns and dysfunctional relationships. The family may already know where their relationships are rocky, but a therapist can also point out how to fix them. 

In sessions, families can practice better communication. The therapist can enforce respectful participation so family members will feel comfortable sharing emotions and changing behavior. This will decrease tension in interactions at home and everyone will be happier.

Starting therapy together

No family wants to experience strain in their relationships, but when stressful times make showing love to your kin difficult, you’ll want to get set up with family therapy. Looking out for your loved ones’ mental and behavioral well-being is one of the best things you can do for them (and for yourself).

This is a journey your family can embrace together and come out of the experience stronger and closer. Therapy can help to relearn how to love and be loved by your spouse, kids, parents and other relatives. The investment will be worth the healthy connection your family builds.

Get connected with a professional therapist to get the best services for your family. Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare will offer a comfortable and supportive setting for you to embrace change as a family. Reach out to Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare by calling 678-274-4936.

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