Whether they’re blood relatives or chosen family, a family is often composed of the most important connections that humans have with one another. Societies have historically been formed around family units, and without our connection to each other and our biological instinct to protect our families, we may not have evolved and advanced the way we have. However, most families will still experience disagreements, stress, or conflict. This is where family therapy often comes in.
Reasons & Solutions For Family Therapy
One key to keeping a successful family unit moving forward is to be able to understand and identify the needs of the individual members and balance those with the wellbeing of the family unit. Family therapy is a unique form of therapy that can help with addressing all of those needs. A counselor or therapist can be a great resource for families of any size, and they can help you no matter how big or small the topic of your concern appears.
What Are The Reasons Your Family May Benefit From Family Therapy?
As you look for a family counselor, consider all of the options available, including a traditional, local counselor and online therapists. There are counselors out there who will be ideal for helping your family explore therapy. If you are thinking about family therapy, that in itself is a good signifier that you may beready to participate. As you make this important decision to seek outside support, here are ten reasons that indicate that your family may benefit from counseling.
- The Blended Family
A blended family is when two separate family units decide to become one. This can happen when one person with children marries someone else with children. A blended family can also occur when someone without kids marries a parent,and in the same situation, when the couple then has children of their own, creating half-siblings.
These types of families can be difficult to navigate, especially when there are other parents from previous relationships still involved in the children's lives. The stepparent role can be full of ongoing negotiations as you create boundaries. Whatever role you have, everyone's goal is probably to have a harmonious family unit where all members feel heard and acknowledged. Family therapy can help you with this. Family therapy can be an easy way for families to voice concerns and find connections with the support of a mental health provider.
- Changes To Daily Life
It isn’t always easy to adjust to new things. What are good examples of changes to daily life that families could need support with? Here are some:
- Moving to a new city or town
- A divorce or separation
- Grief or loss within the family
Family therapy can help your family adapt and, if applicable, heal. People of all ages can have trouble with adjustment. But if a child is in distress over, say, moving from their old home into a new one, especially if the trouble with adjustment does not seem to dissipate, the entire family may participate in therapy to help with the adjustment.
- Feeling Alone Or Social Isolation
Sometimes, you and/or your spouse need time alone, right? It’s also normal and healthy for adolescents to begin to have a desire for privacy and autonomy. Wanting some alone time is normal for everyone, no matter what age you are. Families will sometimes go through phases of wanting alone time or wanting more family time.
However, if you see a family member of any age withdrawing from the family, preferring to stay in their room rather than come down for dinner every night, not socializing with their friends or family anymore, or expressing often that they do not feel understood, this can become an area of concern, especially when paired with other signs. At times, this withdrawal from others could be a symptom of a condition such as major depressive disorder or an eating* disorder.
If a person feels alone in their family, or if they are facing other concerns—such as depression or bullying—that make them feel alone, family therapy may be able to help. In family therapy, you can gain a better understanding of each other’s point of view and work together to support one another. This is part of why family therapy is often a part of inpatient or outpatient programs for mental health concerns.
*Please contact the National Eating Disorder Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 if you or someone you know exhibits symptoms of an eating disorder.
- Adjusting To Teenage Years
If you are a parent, there was a time when you were a teenager, so you know that teenagers often come with a whole other set of instructions that you will never get. Teenage years are typically full of emotion, angst, and questioning. There are also a lot of changes during the teenage years that you may have trouble adjusting to as a parent. However, this adjustment is possible. Family therapy can help you support your teen with their own mental health, or it can help you with concerns in the family unit, like communication and respecting autonomy.
It’s not uncommon that people have trouble regulating their emotions until their brains are fully developed, around age 22-25. Familytherapy can help identify the underlying matters happening in your family that are causing conflict or emotional turmoilwith your children and family. Therapists will allow both the children and the parents of the family to voice their concerns in order to create a better connection between the whole family.
- Addiction/Substance Use Disorders
Despite stigma, substance use disorders are common, and they are also treatable.
Whether your loved one needs an intervention, rehab services, or outpatient counseling, the entire family may benefit from family counseling or therapy. In family therapy, you can learn how to support each other and address the substance use disorder appropriately. In cases of substance use disorders, family therapy is a great place for every member of the family to speak up about how it is affecting them and come up with real solutions that meet your loved one where they are.
If you or someone you know shows signs of a substance use disorder, please contact the 24/7SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- Keeping Secrets
Having secrets, or certain things you keep to yourself, is natural and healthy under some circumstances. While being an open book can be important in a family, and communication is essential in marriage, having a few things you keep to yourself shouldn't hurt anyone. However, if you find yourself constantly keeping things from your spouse or arranging things purposely for your partner or family to not find out, this behavior is deceitful and secretive and can lead to some major issues down the road. These habits can affect the entire family.
Family therapy can help you and your spouse discover the underlying cause of the distance created between you and why secrets are being kept. A family therapist can also help to bridge the communication gap you may be experiencing with your partner. During therapy, each family member may have individual or collective time with the family therapist to get to the source of the family or partner disconnect.
- Lacking/Withholding Intimacy
When your partner doesn't do the dishes when they say they will or messages a past partner on Facebook to see how they are doing, do you withhold intimacy as punishment for their actions? You should never feel as though you have to punish your partner. In a relationship, two people should work together for a mutually beneficial solution to their issue, not punish each other or any other member of the family.
Withholding affection is a subtle way to manipulate our spouses, and sometimes we may not even realize we are doing it. This behavior can cause a huge lack of balance in a relationship and lead to resentment and anger. Family counseling or therapy can help you to find better ways of communicating your needs with your spouse.
Lack of affection or displays of positive regard in a family unit as a whole might also be a reason to attend therapy.
- Healing After The Past
It’s common to hear things like, “It’s in the past, so it doesn’t matter anymore,” or, “Let’s keep the past in the past.” However, there are times when, if left unaddressed, things that happened in the past can have a lasting impact.
Maybe your child remembers something you said when they were younger that stuck with them and hurt their feelings, or a traumatic event occurred that impacted them. Perhaps, there was infidelity in your relationship, and that has had a lasting impact. These are examples of situations where family therapy could potentially help you heal from the past.
As tempting as it can be to ignore these concerns and try to focus on the present, if you’re not on the same page, it might be very crucial to family members that these matters are spoken about. Family therapy can help you get on the same page and move forward in a healthy, authentic, and informed way.
- Growing Apart, Respecting Differences, And Finding Compromise
People naturally grow and change as they get older. In a relationship, sometimes we need to adapt to the way our families change and grow. When children are teenagers, adult parents get the chance to think about the way they want to live their lives when their kids are out of the house, and at times, family members can have very different ideas of what this looks like.
You may have a child at home who wants to stay put because they are going to college at home and don't want to move out. You may want to move to the mountains, while your spouse wants to adventure around the world.
A family therapistcan help your family navigate its future. Therapy provides a context for open lines of communication with a neutral mediator. It can also help you understand one another’s differences, which is often valuable.
- Holding Grudges
Similar to healing from past trauma or hurt, when one of the members of a family is holding a grudge, it can be felt by and affect the entire family. If you are constantly holding it over your partner's head that they did something you disagreed with or find yourself excessively criticizing your child because they made a mistake, you may benefit from family therapy. Therapists can provide a safe and neutral space for conflicts within the family to be worked out.
Holding grudges can be detrimental to a family because it often builds resentment, anger, and contempt. These feelings can lead to fighting and unnecessary bitterness. Sometimes we don't even remember why we are mad at the person after holding a grudge for so long: we just know we are mad. Family therapy is there for your family when the walls of trust and communication are breaking down.
How can you find a family therapist? Often, people use directories, search online, ask for a referral, call their insurance company to ask about providers who offer family therapy, or look into low-cost services in their area. You may also be interested in online therapy options like ReGain.
Whether you desire support for concerns related to familial relationships or something else, ReGain is here to help. When you sign up, you’ll complete a questionnaire that’ll help you find a therapeutic match quickly. ReGain cuts out the time spent on a waitlist, which is sometimes extensive, and its online platform means that you won’t have to commute to get the help you need. ReGain’s experienced, licensed mental health providers can help your family communicate more effectively, grow stronger, and live harmoniously.
Below are some reviews of ReGain counselors from people who sought support for similar concerns.
"Yumi is amazing and a perfect fit for us. Just having one video session help our family so much in so many ways. He responses are on point and we value it greatly. I can't thank her enough for all she has continued to do to strengthen our family. I would recommend her to the world that's how amazing she is."