What is Family Therapy?
Most individual therapy (or counseling) is all about helping someone overcome their personal struggles in order to achieve stability, improve overall mood, and grow toward healing. Family Therapy is a specialty form of treatment that incorporates the entire family system, rather than just one person.
Families will meet privately with a specially-trained Family Therapist to have safe and open conversations about the reasons they are seeking treatment. Family Therapists listen for underlying themes, notice patterns of communication, and identify the roles that different family members may take on. These insights are then used collaboratively and compassionately to help the family work on developing effective solutions for alleviating dysfunction as a team in a way that avoids shaming and blaming individual members.
Effective Family Therapy often takes time and investment from the group. Often, Family Therapists will also give some sort of at-home assignments for family members to do between sessions. These are designed to promote growth through practice in “real world” situations.
What Does Family Therapy Address?
Every family has their own challenges to face, and many families feel overwhelmed and stuck in their problems. Here at Family Connections Therapy, we tend to see four main categories of family issues:
Communication. Often, families experience difficulty with effectively communicating their needs to one another in ways that are well-received. As misunderstandings and miscommunications raise the heat, arguments and fights begin to break out. Common examples of breakdowns in communication might include:
- “Ignoring” one another
- Not being heard without yelling or raising one’s voice
- Feeling disrespected or unseen
- Disobedience and dishonesty
Roles. Family members naturally tend to take on certain roles within the group. One person may be seen as the “class clown,” always making jokes and lightening the mood, while another family member might be seen as the “serious one” who might be viewed as underemotional. Although many of these roles might be useful, sometimes problems can arise. Here are a few examples:
- The “parentified” child who tends toward taking on adult-responsibilities that may not be appropriate for their current stage of development
- The “bad kid” or the scapegoat who is often blamed for problems
- The “backbone” who is often supporting and taking care of others to a degree that may be unhealthy
Boundaries. Many families struggle with appropriate, healthy boundaries. Sometimes families lack necessary boundaries, which we call “enmeshment,” resulting in a lack of privacy or individuality. Sometimes families have rigid, distant boundaries that prevent them from opening up emotionally to one another. Here are a few examples of boundary difficulties in families:
- High level of parental investment that may begin to feel overwhelming (“Helicopter” parenting)
- Lack of communication about one’s needs
- Triangulation, or when a child becomes a parent’s confidant or outlet for venting
- Ingrouping, where family members exclude or shun one another
Trust. Trust is an essential component of the family system. Sometimes, things will happen to families that harm that trust. For example, if any sort of trauma occurs within the family or to an individual member, this can dramatically affect the family system. Some families must also learn to integrate (i.e. blended families, foster children, adoption, etc.), which requires building of safety and trust from scratch. A lack of trust can manifest in many different ways, such as:
- Hiding information or keeping secrets
- Lying to one another
- Being emotionally closed off
- Avoidance of spending time with other family members
Difficulties with communication, roles, boundaries, and trust can truly derail a functional family. However, families are dynamic and flexible groups designed to work well together. With the right support, even the most dysfunctional families can find healing and prosper.
The family home is a place of rest and safety. Where else can parents and children find natural support and care, if not from one another?
If you and your family are struggling, don’t wait for things to get better on their own.
Let us help.
Left untreated, small snags can lead to major consequences. Here at Family Connections Therapy, we know how difficult it can be when the family seems derailed – and we want to help you get back on track.
How Can Family Connections Therapy Help?
You are not alone. Our team of specialized counselors is here for you and your family.
To get things started, you and your family will meet as a group with one of our team members for an initial “intake” session. This is sort of like a group interview where the counselor will get a sense of your family’s unique history and how you interact with one another. If time allows, you might get to work on some solutions together and find an initial at-home assignment to get you started.
After that, each session will be a dynamic, solution-focused processing group to help your family discover underlying issues in communication. Each meeting will help you and your family develop an increased sense of trust and vulnerability, as well as personal and familial insight. We have witnessed so many beautiful moments in therapy where family members learn to open up to one another, offer empathy, and work effectively as a team.
Here are some of the issues we have helped families work through:
- Disobedience and rebelliousness
- Managing feelings of anger and frustration
- Loss of connection or engagement with family members
- Parent-child problems
- Problematic communication
- Traumatic life events (car accidents, health issues, violence, etc.)
- Loss and grief
- Addition of new family members
- Divorce and separation
If you and your family have struggled with any of these difficulties, don’t wait. Contact Family Connections Therapy today and learn how we can help make things better.
About Family Connections Therapy
Our mission is to help kids and families learn to work well together, find deeper healing, and to empower our community through effective mental health services, one family at a time. Together, we can help children and families live happier, healthier lives.
Sometimes it can be difficult to reach out, but we would love to hear from you! If you have questions or thoughts about our work or would like to sign up for your first session, contact us at 858-776-8804 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Our office is conveniently located at 11838 Bernardo Plaza Ct #250, San Diego, CA 92128.