All families experience difficulties, whether they involve problems with communication, anger, or financial hardship. Family counseling can help you overcome these issues, but it can be intimidating if you are not sure what to expect.
This guide will help you understand and prepare for family therapy, giving you an overview of the process and shining light on common family therapy misconceptions.
1. Therapy uses talking to help you understand and solve problems.
Talking is a useful tool that can help you understand the problems in your family, from each family member’s perspective. The therapist will guide conversations in such a way that everyone has the opportunity to describe their experiences with the conflict. This will allow your family to understand its problems better, as well as each person’s reactions to them. Family therapy is not about placing blame on an individual, but rather understanding everyone’s perspective and creating a plan to improve tensions and conflict.
The therapist will ask direct questions, such as when the trouble started, how each person feels about the problem, and what you have been doing to manage the situation so far. From that point, they will work with you to create a treatment plan to improve family conflicts.
2. Family activities are also a part of therapy.
Family therapy may also include activities, such as games, to help encourage conversation and strengthen family bonds. Oftentimes, play may help a child relax and be more open to sharing their thoughts and feelings on a difficult topic. A therapist may also encourage you to bring certain games and activities into your home life to encourage productive, positive family interactions.
3. You will identify your family’s strengths and weaknesses.
Identifying your family’s strengths and weaknesses will help you create a plan about what to improve and how to improve it. For example, an individual in your family may be very good at expressing love through actions such as showing physical affection. However, he or she may have a more difficult time expressing those same feelings through words. Therapy can help you identify those strengths and weaknesses, and give you techniques to improve communication.
4. You will learn skills to cope with conflict.
Therapists have a toolbox of techniques to help families deal with conflict. You will learn strategies specific to your situation that will make your everyday life easier, and help you reduce conflict at home. Some of these strategies may include…
- Anger management techniques
- Ways to increase communication
- Ways to calm down and reduce stress
- How to counter negative thoughts with positive ones
- Creating a plan to deal with conflict when it occurs
5. You will learn techniques to encourage conversation at home.
Communication is key to healthy relationships. Therapy can give you tools to help increase communication at home. For example, a therapist may provide you with questions you can use to encourage conversation with your child. This will ensure that you know what is going on in your child’s life, and be available to offer support when necessary.
6. Family counseling can be an alternative to medication, or used in conjunction with it.
Many families consider taking medication in conjunction with family therapy. These two solutions are not mutually exclusive. However, in many situations, therapy may be a healthy alternative to medication. Or, if you are exploring medication, it can be used as a tool to understand the source of the problem before making the decision to medicate.
For example, if a child is having trouble concentrating at school, the source of the distraction may stem from conflicts at home. If you are able to improve the child’s home life, this may free their mind from distraction, and they will be able to better concentrate on their lessons. Alternatively, family therapy may help you recognize an underlying issue in which the individual could benefit greatly from the use of medication.
Medication and therapy are also often used in conjunction. It is very common that a family would attend therapy while having one or more member of the family on medication.
7. The whole family (including children) may attend, just the parents, or whoever is willing to participate.
Family therapy is inclusive and open for the entire family to attend. Due to this flexible nature, it is also not necessary for every individual to attend. Family therapy can truly mold to the needs of the family. In some situations, only the parents will attend therapy sessions, while in others, the entire family will attend. It is also possible for only one member of the family to see a family therapist, or for each session to include a different combination of family members. It is all dependant on what problems are occuring at home, and who is willing to participate.
8. Family therapy is often problem-focused and brief.
There is a common belief that therapy is long-term, sometimes lasting months or even years. However, family therapy is often short-term and goal-oriented.
9. Therapists work together with parents as a team.
Some parents may think that therapists will blame the family’s problems on them. Not so. Even good families experience problems, and the parent is often not the source of those problems. Friends, teachers, and all social situations in the child’s life impact their emotions and development. Therapists will work together with parents to problem-solve, acting as team to create the ideal environment in which to raise children.
10. Family therapy can help with a variety of issues.
Family therapy is very versatile, and can help families dealing with many different issues. Common family therapy issues include anger, communication, financial distress, or grief.
Family Counseling in Little Rock
The Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center helps families overcome conflict by learning healthy and safe coping techniques. In addition to the common family issues listed above, we also help families affected by divorce, parenting situations, blended family challenges, and discipline concerns. Schedule an appointment today by calling (501) 222-3463, and let us help you create a healthier home life for your family.