Family And Couples Therapy: Is it Right For You?
Updated March 17, 2020
Reviewer Aaron Horn
There is a big difference between individual and family therapy. Individual therapy can focus solely on the client and their goals for change. Therapy becomes more complex when more people are added, and the dynamic relationship shifts from focusing solely on the self to focusing on others and how they interact. Couples or family therapy however can be much more effective at producing deep lasting change.
Many couples and families choose to put off therapy as the complexity of the different thoughts, actions, and mindsets can make it seem impossible to change. The issues that they are currently facing may seem insurmaountable. However, this attitude toward counseling is often incorrect as therapy is a valuable tool that helps single individuals and multiple individuals cope with a wide variety of problems. Many of those who are on the fence about therapy need additional information to help them decide whether or not to go, and this guide will serve as a resource that you can reference when you are seeking out family or couple's therapy.
Why Family And Couples Therapy?
When you and your partner or you and your entire family try to work through your problems alone, it can be difficult. The lack of external support can cause increased stress when your family attempts to do so. You may find yourself descending into fights even when you're trying to talk things over rationally, or you may not be able to articulate what it is that's making you unhappy. (This can be especially true for members of the family who have not yet learned how to express their emotions properly.) If this is true for your family, you can determine that the major issue is the lack of communication and the lack of a neutral party who can ease the tension and make objective observations that will lead to valuable action down the road.
With family and couples therapy, you'll be able to sit down with the other people in your family and talk about what's bothering you in a setting that allows for honesty and openness as you'll have someone there to help mediate your discussions. This setting and the therapist that you choose will also help you to stay on task and to talk things through instead of letting your emotions get the better of you. This helps you succeed in resolving your problems and avoiding the communication issues that were previously making it hard to work within the family.. After all, it's hard to fix anything if everyone is fighting all of the time instead of listening. You need to be calm and rational to figure out solutions.
In addition, family and couple's therapy provides a wide variety of other benefits including…
Helps Individuals Recognize Unhealthy Behavioral Patterns and Dynamics Between Family Members
Habits and cycles are formed over many years of both internal and external conflicts. They are formed from repetitive behaviors and patterns that are allowed to continue and become more and more ingrained over time. Because they are allowed to continue and become part of our daily lives, they become less noticeable to us. We often need professional interventions that cultivate mindfulness of out "out of date" reactions. Fortunately, a counselor can work to break these habits and form healthier relationships with your loved ones.
Promotes Empathy and Understanding
When there is a source of conflict between individuals, it can be easy to focus on how the other person is acting and to treat that as the sole cause of the issue. However, it takes two (or more) to fight. The reasons that are contributing to each person's actions and way of thinking are often clouded when we attempt to solve problems ourselves. Think about your family issues for a second? What do you believe is causing the issues? Do you think that the cause of the conflict is your partner or another family member? If so, have you considered any behaviors or actions that you have been contributing to the conflict that could be adding fuel to the fire? Have you taken a look at your partner's side of the argument and attempted to understand why they might be frustrated with you? It is important to look at all angles and understand external perspectives, but we can often miss these when our family members are involved. Luckily, counselors can help you get a better look at the whole picture to promote empathy and understanding.
Provides Each Member of the Family Will Learn Lifelong Skills They Can Apply in Everyday Situations
Some people think that they only attend counseling to help them cope with their current problems, but the truth is that therapy often teaches us lessons and skills that will help foster lifelong success rather than just success at this point. True, while what you learn in session can help you to better communicate with your family members, it will also give you the tools to communicate with other people outside of the family unit. Beyond this, you can learn tools to better manage your life, your emotions, and other aspects of your life that you may currently be struggling with. This can be an extremely helpful resource for the family as a whole, and you may want to consider family and couple's counseling for this reason alone.
Brings the Family Closer Together
Living in a broken family system can take a toll on each member and make it impossible to connect in such a way that the relationships are sustained and nurtured. Although it should be noted that some families have continuing conflicts, others can heal from the issues that they have been dealing with for a long period. This kind of healing can help family members find forgiveness and forge a stronger bridge that brings them closer together. In the case of families who deal with minor situations, family and couple's counseling can serve to strengthen those solid ties that already exist and make the family unit stronger. This kind of counseling can help to provide your family with the tools to form a more cohesive unit that can take on almost any obstacle life has to throw at you and the other members of your family.
How It Works and How to Get Started
With this type of therapy, you're likely going to sit down with your household and your therapist and discuss the problems that are taking place in your home. This provides the therapist with a comprehensive picture of everything that is going on. Each member of the family will be able to elaborate on each of the situations, and everyone will be able to talk about the problems and the feelings that they are experiencing in the face of these conflicts. Once the therapist has managed to identify the different issues, they will help you to understand better why each of you are thinking, feeling and acting a certain way.Throughout the course of the therapy, they can teach you how to interact with one another more healthily and successfully that helps all of you to be happier in the relationship.
Also, family and couple's counseling works for a variety of behavioral problems and mental health issues, including…
- Substance abuse or addiction
- Acting out at school
- Acting out at home
- Separation or divorce
- Intimacy problems
- Financial issues
- Assisting a family member with developmental issues
That being said, family and couple's therapy is not just valuable for existing issues. Family units can also utilize this form of therapy as a way to eliminate issues before they strike. Say, for example, that a family is undergoing a major change such as a move to another state, or they are dealing with the loss of a loved one who was close to each family member. Counseling can provide you with the tools necessary to get through any of these situations and works extremely well as a protective measure against any potential problems that could result during life changes that impact the family unit as a whole.
The goal of any kind of therapy is to help each feel safe, happy, and successful in their relationships. With this type of therapy, your therapist isn't focused only on one person in the relationship but on everyone in it and every dynamic that plays a part in how successful the family unit as a whole is. After all, to have a healthy and happy family, the entire family has to be on board. It can be difficult, but by working with a counselor, you'll be far more successful than you would be just by working on yourself or even as a couple. The rest of the family is important to include in these counseling sessions!
If you and your family aren't comfortable going to visit a therapist, you can make the situation a whole lot easier by bringing the therapist to you. With Regain, you'll be able to find a therapist online that can help you and your family. They'll be able to provide you with insight right from your home. That can make you and your family more comfortable as you don't have to travel to an office and you can settle in for your therapy sessions. If this appeals to you and you believe your family has issues to resolve and things that you could be doing better, sign up with a counselor today and start your journey to success!