Any licensed marriage and family therapist can tell you that families are complex group systems that require a special form of systemic therapy in times of conflict. With that said, family therapy is a fantastic tool for families struggling with behaviors, tension, dysfunctional cycles, and understanding the family narrative.
A great way to get family members on the same page in challenging times, family therapy serves to help families be the best versions of themselves in spite of challenging circumstances. If you or your family members are considering seeing a family therapist in order to improve your systemic family dynamic, even with extended family, read on to learn more about this counseling specialty area and what it can do for you.
Negotiating and Identifying the Family Dynamic
Many people don’t realize just how complicated the unique field of family therapy is. Otherwise put, a place like Charlie’s Health has their work cut out for them. Charlie Health’s virtual Intensive Outpatient Program is focused on helping teens, young adults, and their families in healing. Because of the complexities associated with family counseling, therapists are trained to use a specific therapeutic process that will mean big changes for the willing family.
Like individual therapy, family therapists can use therapy sessions to help you identify the family narrative. A family narrative is the stories we pass down for generations but also how we view our family dynamic. For example, one person who might be known as the black sheep of the family could often tell stories about how one sibling is a high achiever or how a parent prefers one child over another. In being honest about and untangling these narratives and how they make family members feel and behave, therapists can help families become less toxic and break negative patterns.
Spotting and Changing Dysfunctional Cycles
Most families suffer from some level of dysfunction or another. Sadly, this dysfunction can be passed down for generations from families of origin. Even the best-intentioned families can repeat negative cycles. With the help of a therapist or social worker trained in family therapy, families can expect to come out of sessions better differentiated and able to change family relationships overall.
A big element of family systems therapy is that family members must learn healthy boundaries, stay connected in positive ways, and know how to stand out as individuals. All of these are major goals of family therapy.
Offering Tools and Resources
Not only will family therapy help your family to become more differentiated, but it can be a great way to get access to tools that will help your family on a daily basis. For example, for a young family struggling with a child’s behavior, a family therapist could offer suggestions on rewards, daily chores sheets, and discipline. This can go a long way toward not only changing negative behavior but giving a child more structure.
Identifying the Shared Dream
Couples who create a family of creation often go into this decision with something family therapists call the shared dream. Trouble and conflict can arise when that shared dream is challenged. Something as natural as the birth of an unplanned child can be enough to disrupt the shared dream. Whether your family is struggling with infidelity, sudden change, job loss, a medical issue, or interference by extended family, a family therapist can help you to modify your shared dreams and strengthen your bond as a family.
Regardless of why you decide to seek the help of a therapist skilled in the family therapy discipline, odds are that your entire family will benefit from learning about tools like determining the identified patient in a dysfunctional unit, triangulation, and how to learn coping skills and make adjustments to new group behaviors. Best of luck to you in finding a family therapist to help make your family structure a happy and healthy one.