A family is only as happy, healthy and secure as their individual members. When one family member experiences mental health issues, substance addiction or other challenges, its effects can reverberate throughout the entire family. In the face of these challenges, it’s important for a family to be a united front and work together to heal and move forward.
Family therapy is a great way to handle issues that affect the whole family. Sessions will be led by a licensed marriage and family therapist, a therapist who specializes in family relationships and dynamics. The goal of family therapy is to confront and address issues that affect the entire family. Your therapist can help you work together to get to the root of these issues, develop coping and communication skills and learn to forgive each other and move forward as a family.
Family therapy is rooted in family systems therapy, or the idea that families operate in cohesive systems rather than as independent individuals as part of a group. To that end, family therapy examines the issues troubling a family – whether they be divorce, mental or behavioral disorders, substance addiction, grief, chronic illness or surviving a traumatic event – within the context of how the family unit as a whole has been harmed and how it can heal together.
Family counseling can also be done within the context of a family member’s treatment plan. For example, a member of your family may be in an intensive outpatient program to treat their substance addiction. If their substance abuse has affected you as a family, you can attend weekly family counseling as part of your loved one’s overall addiction treatment. This is beneficial for individual family members and your family unit as a whole; each of you must heal from distressing events in order to heal as a family.
Depending on the issue for which family therapy is being sought, individual therapy may also complement family treatment. If one member of the family is struggling with a mental health disorder, behavioral issue, substance addiction or another type of addiction like gambling, individual therapy can help them heal on their own. Individual family members are parts of a whole; they cannot contribute to family recovery without first recovering themselves.
Healthy and productive communication can be practiced outside of family therapy sessions. You will learn the communication tools you need in therapy and then will be challenged every day to implement them.
Communication is one of the only ways you can know what is troubling your family. Make an effort to check in with your family members, and encourage one another to share your feelings when needed. It may take time to reach a point of feeling completely comfortable communicating openly, though. Be patient and understanding, it will be worth it.
Keep these tips in mind when communicating with your family members, especially when you are still in the early days of addressing sensitive issues or becoming comfortable with family therapy:
- Start small. Don’t pressure your family members to communicate if they aren’t ready.
- Keep an open mind. You want your family members to feel like they can come to you with any issues they have.
- Refrain from passing judgement. You may not agree with all of your family’s choices or opinions, but be considerate of their experiences that may be informing their thoughts, feelings, and actions.
- Don’t raise your voice or use aggressive language. Children in particular are more perceptive than we may believe, and they can be even more negatively impacted when they feel uncomfortable in their home environment.
- Be honest, and communicate yourself. In order for your family to feel trusting and comfortable enough to communicate about painful family issues, they have to feel like your entire family is open to communicating and moving forward.
- Schedule regular family meetings if that structure will help your family prepare to communicate about difficult topics.
Pyramid Family Behavioral Healthcare will offer a comfortable and supportive setting for you to embrace hope and healing as a family. Reach out today at 678-274-4936 to begin the healing process for your family.