Our family influences every aspect of our lives, from our first moments to our last. It affects who we are and molds us into who we become. We learn our language, behaviours, habits, customs, rituals, and how to view the world around us. We also learn how to love and how to interact with others through our family.
If we are born into healthy families with healthy relationships, we are likely to learn how to maintain healthy relationships. If we are born into a dysfunctional family that struggles to connect, we may also struggle to connect with others.
Although it is certainly unlucky to be born into the second kind of family, it’s not an unchangeable situation. We all know that nearly all families deal with some sort of dysfunction at one time or another, however, most of them can retain a sense of wholeness.
Family therapy offers families a way to do this—a way to develop or maintain a healthy and functional family.
It aims to improve inter-family communication, alter harmful patterns of behavior, and settle disputes. It is suitable for people of all ages and can even be helpful to them.
Family therapists don't only assist a single-family unit. They might only work with specific family members, with kids and adults separately, or with couples.
What issues can family therapy address?
Family therapy can assist with a variety of issues, including those involving relationships, trauma, and mental illness. Typical cases of how family therapy can be beneficial are:
1. When a family or couple wants to strengthen their bond.
2. When a family member is dealing with addiction.
3. When a family member is struggling with a mental illness.
How does family therapy work?
Your journey will typically start with an assessment, as it does with most types of therapy. This is the time when you see a therapist to explain the problems you are having and the things you need help with.
Your therapist can also go over how they will be able to help you at this point, as well as plan out your subsequent sessions. For everyone to speak and hear each other, the entire family will typically receive this therapy in one room. Therapists may, on occasion, work with a specific family unit, a couple, or an individual. Depending on the issue you're trying to get assistance with, this will vary.
You may work with a single therapist or a group of therapists during the sessions themselves. If you are working with a team, you might notice that they discuss the issue and any solutions they have with one another in front of you. Many families find this to be enlightening.
Therapists will refrain from picking "sides" or pointing the finger at specific people. Instead, they will try to involve the entire family and work with you to figure out how to proceed. The normal session should last around 50 to 90 minutes, with adequate time allotted for each speaker to speak. Weekly sessions are typical, but the therapist can talk about that with you during your assessment.
What if someone in the family is hesitant to attend?
Family therapy may seem a little intimidating to some members of the family. In this situation, it may be helpful to schedule a meeting between the family member and the family therapist so that they can discuss any concerns they may have before the therapy sessions begin.
Can I see a family therapist on my own?
A family therapist will see you on an individual basis. Many people find it helpful to have their families present during sessions so they can talk about what is going on, but obviously, this isn't always possible. It can still be very beneficial to see a family therapist on an individual basis.