Family therapy is a type of counseling that helps family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. I like it as a mediator because it can help you hear your kids while you are going through your divorce and it can help you find ways to determine how you’ll be a family in the future. Having these types of discussions can be helpful particular to middle, older kids and adult children. It can help the family morph and care for one another through a difficult time. Sessions are typically led by either a clinical social worker, psychologist, or licensed therapist.
Unlike individual therapy, where people may participate in weekly sessions for years, family therapy is intended to be short-term. Sessions may include all family members, or just those who are willing and able to attend.
Treatment plans are unique and will be based on your family’s personal issues and goals. With that said, all sessions focus on teaching skills to rebuild, or in some cases build, new family connections and cope with problems as a loving and cohesive unit.
Problems commonly addressed are martial or financial problems, conflict between children and parents, divorce impact on the family and the impact of mental illness or substance abuse on the entire family.
Family therapy can be pursued at the same time as a member is in individual therapy. For instance, if a family member is suffering from depression, the entire family is affected and can benefit from open discussion of the issue in family therapy. In the case of divorce, parents and children may each have their own therapist and may use a therapist to bring everyone together. This provides 1:1 support for the individuals and support to the family community. The person suffering from depression will also continue with his or her individualized treatment plan, which may include medications, one-on-one counseling or other treatment.
What You Can Expect
Family therapy will typically bring together several family members for therapy sessions. Not all members will be required for each session, and most therapists are willing to create a treatment plan that is flexible and takes into account the family’s schedule.
Most sessions are about an hour, and the overall goal is to facilitate positive change within a six-month period. Some families may meet once a week, every week, while others may meet less often or more often. How many session you’ll need will depend on your family’s particular needs and the recommendation of your therapist.
During family therapy, you can:
- Examine your family’s ability to problem solve and communicate thoughts and feelings in a healthy way
- Identify your family’s strengths and weaknesses
- Explore family roles, dynamics, rules and behavior patterns so that you can begin to spot issues that frequently contribute to conflict, as well as learn ways to work through them together
Many of our divorce clients utilize therapy as a support for themselves, their kids and sometimes their whole family. Contact us if you’d like to discuss further how you might find the right therapist for you.