What is Family Therapy and How Does it Work?

what is family therapy

What is Family Therapy and How Does it Work?

Family is one of the most important things in many people’s lives. Whether you are still living with your family or only seeing them on special occasions, it can be extremely difficult to navigate familial relationships. Oftentimes, your family members can get away with certain behaviors and attitudes that you would not accept from friends or acquaintances.

Unfortunately, the longer a family allows conflict to slide without addressing it, the more likely it becomes that people will develop complicated feelings or resentments toward one another. Because of this, many families take advantage of the benefits of family therapy. Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy (talk therapy) that is intended to help each member of the family better understand and support one another.

If you and your family have been experiencing some conflict that you cannot seem to overcome, learning about family therapy and how it works can motivate you to get the support you need.

Why Do People Attend Family Therapy?

Like individual therapy, family therapy can help families overcome a wide range of issues. In fact, some families may decide to attend therapy together as a preventative measure. Even if you aren’t experiencing a severe issue in the family unit, you can reap the benefits of family therapy.

It is important to note that family therapy is designed for all types of families. Family counseling can help sibling relationships, parent-child relationships, and even relationships among grandparents and children.

Common issues addressed during family sessions include:

  • Strained relationships between family members
  • Stress or anger
  • Communication issues
  • Trauma
  • Coping with acute or chronic illness of a family member
  • The death of a loved one (grief)
  • Divorce or issues in romantic relationships
  • Coping with big life changes, such as moving, unemployment, or blending a family
  • Addiction in the family

Even further, families may attend therapy with each other when one family member suffers from a mental health condition because the symptoms of psychiatric illnesses tend to affect the people around the person who is suffering. For example, family counseling can help your loved ones learn how to navigate their relationship with you when you are suffering from anxiety disorders, mood disorders, or any other mental health condition you may struggle with.

How Does Family Therapy Work?

Family therapy is an evidence-based treatment that focuses on providing a safe and supportive space for your family to have an open dialogue. It is a process that helps you and your loved ones discuss the issues affecting the family unit and your relationships with one another in a safe and supportive environment.

Oftentimes, when people attempt to have these conversations at home, emotions run high and people say things they do not mean. Therapy helps you learn how to communicate your emotions effectively, preventing people from becoming defensive, angry, or resentful. In addition to learning communication skills, your therapist will help you develop healthy behavioral patterns that benefit the functioning and well-being of your entire family.

During family therapy, your therapist may:

  • Ask each member about their concerns, challenges, and goals for therapy
  • Encourage everyone to talk and listen to each other
  • Clarify each member’s words and meanings to ensure everyone is understanding each other and provide an example of clear communication
  • Help your family members understand the impact of their words and tone
  • Teach your family how to work together to create positive change
  • Suggest strategies and techniques for changing unhealthy behaviors

It is important to note that family counseling is highly individualized, as the goals and methods of therapy are tailored to your family’s specific needs. The nature and length of therapy is entirely dependent on how much time it takes your family to heal. Some people only attend a few sessions, while others spend months working on bettering themselves and their connections with their loved ones.

What are the Benefits of Family Therapy?

Therapy can be used to address a wide range of issues affecting your family unit, so the benefits you can experience are endless. The benefits of family counseling greatly depend on why you are attending. However, it is important to note that you will only experience the benefits of therapy if you and the other members of your family fully commit to the process and participate during sessions.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), family therapy can:[1]

  • Increase medication adherence, reduce rates of relapse and rehospitalization, reduce psychiatric symptoms, and relieve stress among people suffering from mental health issues
  • Reduce the burden of stress that other family members feel
  • Prevent members of the family from turning to drugs or alcohol to cope
  • Improve how couples treat each other
  • Improve the behavior of children
  • Help the family get along in general
  • Improve communication among family members
  • Educate family members on mental health, behavioral disorders, and anything else their loved ones may experience
  • Strengthen bonds between each member of the family

Get The Help Your Family Needs

If you and your family have been having a hard time getting along, or you simply want to improve your bonds, family therapy can help. By providing each member of your family with a safe space to communicate openly, family counseling can allow you and your loved ones to understand one another on a deeper level. Additionally, you will learn important communication skills and emotional self-regulation techniques to make familial conflict easier to navigate.

To learn more about how therapy can help you and your family, contact Florida Recovery Group today.