Top 10 Reasons Why Your Family May Need Family Therapy

Updated June 14, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include suicide, substance use, or abuse which could be triggering to the reader.
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Many families experience occasional emotional challenges, disconnect, and other issues. When these issues are ongoing, harm the stability of the family, or affect the mental health of a family member, it might be a good idea to consider reaching out to a marriage and family therapist. Through therapy, many families find that can have more open conversations, a stronger bond, and an improved support network.  

This article will explore some of the most common issues that may indicate it’s time to get professional help.

I feel like my family is growing apart

Reasons to try family therapy

Marriage and family therapy is a type of psychotherapy, also called “talk therapy,” that helps family members (defined as any group of people who care about each other and consider themselves as a family) learn to better listen, support, and understand one another. 

Though most families could likely benefit from attending therapy sessions together, there are some common reasons why families report seeking therapy, including the following:  

  1. Challenges commonly faced by blended families

A blended family refers to a family that’s formed when one or both partners have children from prior to the current relationship and live together as one family, thus “blending” the two families. Other types of families that may be considered blended include adoptive parents, families with a stepparent, or unmarried couples who live together (cohabitating parents). 

Oftentimes, blended families navigate things like different parenting approaches, differing values, lack of connection to a parent’s new partner, and sibling arguments. Additionally, these families are frequently navigating the fall-out of divorce or separation, which can heighten stress and mental health challenges. 

Therapy can help blended families do things like develop a cohesive parenting strategy, foster stronger bonds between new family members, develop healthy boundaries, and learn how to communicate more effectively. 

  1. Major life changes

Major life changes can be stressful to navigate and difficult to adjust to. Even if a change doesn’t directly impact children, such as a new job for a parent, it can cause stress or instability. For example, a new job may result in increased work hours, stress, distraction, changes to family routines, or income changes. 

Here are some of the biggest life changes to look out for: 

  • Moving to a new place
  • The birth of a new child 
  • A divorce or separation
  • Job change 
  • Significant new obligations
  • A chronic illness or serious health problem 
  • Natural disaster
  • Grief or loss within the family

A family therapist can provide a safe space to discuss fears, express emotions, and create space to stay more connected despite a period of change or disruption. 

  1. Social isolation

According to the U.S. Surgeon General, we are currently experiencing a public health crisis that’s described as an “epidemic of loneliness,” which can have serious mental and physical health complications.

If you or someone else in the family is withdrawing and isolating themselves, it could be a sign that it’s time for professional intervention. Social withdrawal is often a symptom of mental disorders, such as major depressive disorder, eating disorders, or anxiety disorders, and it’s typically beneficial to intervene and address these behaviors as soon as possible. 

A family therapist can help all members of the family better understand these symptoms, how they can support each other, and what serious signs parents should be on the lookout for. 

  1. Challenges stemming from teenage changes

During their teenage years, adolescents often navigate things like dramatic changes in hormone levels, need for independence, desire to fit in with peers, and self-confidence issues. It can be a very confusing time, and it’s common for children to push back against their parents, distance themselves, or behave in a moody or unpredictable way. Many parents find this to be a frustrating period, and it’s often marred by turmoil and increased arguments or emotional distance in the home. 

Even if the teenager is the “symptom bearer,” the whole family is often experiencing distress during tumultuous teenage challenges, according to a case study published in the journal, Psychiatry. Family therapy can support the mental health of everyone in the unit, while teaching family members how to support each other, voice concerns, and establish healthy boundaries and clear expectations. 

  1. Substance use disorders

Substance use disorders are common, with approximately 10% of American adults experiencing one at some point during their lives. In addition to individual counseling, support groups, interventions, and/or rehab services for the individual with the substance use disorder, the whole family may benefit from family counseling or therapy. During family therapy, family members can learn support strategies, discuss their experiences and concerns, and the therapist can provide education to help family members learn about substance use disorders, destigmatized them, and teach family members about the warning signs of a relapse. 

  1. Family secrecy


Commonly kept secrets in families might include things like: 

  • Infidelity 
  • Hiding school grades 
  • Substance use
  • Lying about parties or other prohibited activities
  • Sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Symptoms of mental health challenges 

Secrets can cause stress, erode trust, and create distance. 

A family therapist can help foster a sense of openness, trustworthiness, and safety that can make it easier for family members to bring up things that they’re concerned about without fear of judgement, ostracization, or ridicule. 

  1. Little emotional intimacy

Emotional intimacy, or the emotional connection between people, requires reciprocal vulnerability, openness, and trust between individuals in the family. When family members are busy with their own obligations, stressors, and activities, they may begin drifting apart and find themselves less affectionate and connected.

A family therapist can guide families towards regaining a sense of emotional intimacy through conversations and advice that can be implemented out of therapy sessions, like making and eating meals together, making time for family activities, and inviting friends to join in on family time. 

  1. Healing from past traumas 

It’s common to hear things like, “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.

For example, traumatic or negative childhood experiences, such as witnessing parental infidelity or being the victim of physical or verbal abuse, can persist far beyond the negative experience. Though many families may want to move on from these experiences or don’t know how to talk about them, they can be more damaging when left unaddressed. 

A family therapist can help the family learn how about how the body responds to trauma and build skills to navigate and validate one another’s emotions.  

  1. Growing apart, respecting differences, and finding compromise

As children grow into adolescents and young adults, they often develop an increasing sense of independence and differences of opinion. It can be difficult for parents to navigate differences between their expectations and their child’s wishes. 

For example, some parents might want their child to follow in their footsteps and play the same sport they played as a child, go to a certain school, have their own children, or follow a particular career path. Oftentimes, these differences and expectations can lead to pressure, tension, and, in some cases, resentment and rebelliousness. 

Marriage and family therapy can help parents learn to provide children with options while still allowing them to build independence and self-confidence in their own decision-making. 

  1. Holding grudges

Many families establish unhealthy dynamics and repeated behaviors that lead to hurt feelings. When left unaddressed, these might lead to one or more family members holding a grudge. Whether it’s due to excessive criticism, infidelity, lack of contributions to household chores, or something else, it can be a good idea to discuss hurt feelings with a licensed therapist who can act as a neutral third party.

Finding help

I feel like my family is growing apart

To find a licensed and credentialed marriage and family therapist, you can use online directories, ask your primary care provider for a referral, contact your insurance provider (if applicable), or reach out to local organizations in your area that may offer lower-cost family therapy services. You can also look for licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT’s) through an online therapy platform like Regain

Online couple’s and family therapy can be a good option if you’d feel more comfortable discussing challenges from the comfort of home, you’re experiencing scheduling challenges with in-person therapy, or if you’re looking for a more cost-effective option (the cost of online therapy is typically comparable to what you might expect to pay for an insurance co-pay). 

A 2021 study on online couple’s therapy found that therapy sessions conducted over videoconference was as effective as in-person therapy, improving both the relationship satisfaction and mental health of the participants. 

Below are some reviews of Regain counselors from people who sought support for similar concerns.

Counselor reviews

"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."

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