Family Therapy

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There can be times when it’s desirable that more than one person receive the benefit of therapy. Family therapy involves a group of people, often living under the same roof, who care about improving a situation at home or in the group. Therapy can include a range of different aged individuals from older children to adults, as long as everyone can be involved helpfully. Family therapy usually focuses on relationships and how they are affected by the behaviors of those in the family system. It facilitates talking about the problem and increasing awareness of how it affects everyone, besides targeting the problem and helping to create change.

A sign that family therapy is indicated is feeling disrupted and frustrated in the family. Seeing that your family is not working well together—not communicating, yelling, feeling more angry or upset than connected—just not feeling like a family.

Often there is an identified member who is singled out as the “troublemaker.” Believe it or not, this person is frequently the key person who is holding the family together. It’s important to recognize everyone’s function and contribution to the problem—and to the solution. Family problems that go on for long enough can affect the mental health of the individuals. It can be depressing and draining to come home to which is why members tend to avoid home or hide behind closed doors.

Who should attend family therapy?

In general, members who have major roles in the family dynamics are invited to participate. It is not necessarily appropriate or advisable that young children attend. This is not to say that they are not affected, but the process of family therapy could be quite overwhelming and beyond their ability to participate in a meaningful way. Older children, adolescents, and adults whose lives are impacted by the problems going on in the family are highly encouraged to attend.

What if I can’t get everyone to attend?

Alternatively, our therapy does not require that everyone involved be committed to family therapy. Assuming we have the commitment of at least one person in the family system who desires change, one person can make a change for themselves as well as alter the course of how the family relates.

We see families as generally closed systems. Changes in one member’s behavior or responses to others in the system produce waves throughout the system. In the very least, the participating individual can experience positive change for themselves. How the rest of the family accommodates the change is up to each person.

At our centers, we have therapists that skilled in TEAM-CBT and experienced in family therapy.

In terms of process, family therapy starts with the therapist meeting the family in the first meeting. It’s important to hear from everyone in the group how each experiences the problem. After this, the therapist arranges to meet with each member separately, taking time to get to know each person better.

Sometimes the evaluation process indicates that individual therapy might be warranted for one or some individuals, such as if one member were experiencing symptoms of depression that would benefit from individual attention. The therapist will make recommendations such recommendations usually after the evaluation.

Assuming no other complications, family meetings start after that. Our approach to family therapy is to bring to awareness each person’s contribution to the problem and how that plays into what is going on in the family. With family members on board, we move onto developing skills to teach the family how to help themselves. The work is interactive and very dynamic and requires participation as well as homework, just as it does in our individual therapy.

If you think that your family could benefit from this type of therapy, please call for more information. Our therapists will be happy to answer your questions.