In many cases, individual therapy is not the best way to address one’s concerns. Sometimes problems may be the result of issues within the family. Therefore, we use a family systems approach to address these concerns. Our counselors work within the family unit to decrease conflict and stress with the various family members. We are able to view the family collectively as the client and create specific treatment goals for the family.
People often ask how family therapy works. We will meet with the entire family and listen to each person’s concerns. We will form a relationship with the individual members, though we view the entire family as the client. From there, we may speak alone with different family members depending on what needs to be addressed. then, we discuss the goals with you and explain how we will reach those goals in practical ways. Through therapy, the family will find improvement, thus bringing each member wholeness and happiness with its individual members.
We do find that there are several common concerns that we address in family therapy. One reason people start therapy is due to concerns of one family member that is causing distress within the family unit. Often, that is a child that is having problems such as behavioral issues, difficulties at school, or a recent mental health concern that the family is trying to understand. Sometimes the focus of therapy maybe on the adult child who is going through a problem such as being released from jail or undergoing substance abuse. In all these cases, the family can learn how to support and communicate with their loved one.
Another common problem that brings families to counseling is experiencing a traumatic event. Some examples could be the death of a loved one, moving to a new city, a house fire, job loss, or severe illness. One of the most common tragedies that we see is separation or divorce. Through family therapy, the unit learns how to process the event together and gain support not only from the therapist but also from one another. Therapy improves the chances that the family unit will move through the trauma with greater healing and wholeness.
For some family members, a traumatic event may not necessarily be a loss but a positive addition to the family. Children may not know how to adjust to a parent’s job change, even if the job is a benefit for the family. Or, possibly a spouse is learning to live with the other spouse traveling more often or being less available to help at home. Another positive change that may be difficult for the family is the addition of a family member. This could be a baby but could also be adopting a new child or the return of an adult child. We have also seen families come to counseling due to a remarriage of one parent. With a new parent in the picture, the family learns how to interact differently to make space and relationship with the new person. Though these are wonderful changes, it can create stress on the family.
In family therapy, we use a family system approach as we address the family unit. We help each person understand their interactions and communication patterns within the family. We teach skills to help members verbalize their thoughts and feelings to their loved one. We assistant practically in creating healthy boundaries, creating space for interaction, developing a schedule, and learning how to appropriately care for one another. Family therapy treats the family, thus helps each individual move forward in their lives.