What to expect: Families consist of one or both parents along with one or multiple young or adult children. Family therapy often includes some individual sessions or check-ins with each family member, some parent coaching sessions, while most sessions will be with all family members who wish to be present. Families typically come to therapy on a bi-monthly basis, for a period of 3-6 months, depending on the issues to be addressed. Individual therapy may be recommended for some or all family members to complement the family work. All family members are encouraged to actively participate in family therapy.
Family members are people who have the potential to be significant important people in our life. But unlike our friends, we do not get to choose our family members. For better or for worse, we are stuck with them.
No one family member is the same. They may have grown up with the same family, but each sibling and parent will come out having had a widely different experience than their counterparts. Within the family nucleus, each family member comes with their own baggage gathered from significant life experiences from their own past. Put two or more people together who carry significant baggage - and we all do! - and you have a recipe for conflict right there! Disagreements over how to parent, arguments over priorities and time management, clash between wanting independence and wanting collaboration, different views about financial responsibilities, you name it! The possibilities for family conflict are endless. This is where family therapy comes in.
You and your family may benefit from family therapy if:
You appear to get stuck over and over on the same issues with no resolution
There is apparent accumulation of resentment between family members; holding grudges, difficulty letting go and forgiving, harsh/snippy attitudes towards each other
Parents are going/have gone through a divorce and want to learn how to effectively co-parent
Your family went through a challenging life event (grief and loss, moving to a different place, new sibling addition, trauma, children leaving for college, adult children coming back to live with parents)
Studies show that family therapy is particularly important for families with members who struggle with substance abuse, eating disorders, and other behavioral issues.
Some positive family therapy outcomes are:
Strategies to develop and maintain boundaries
Fostered sense of cohesion and communication among family members
Promotes problem-solving through the understanding of family patterns and dynamics
Builds empathy and understanding.
Reduces family conflict
When the whole family grows, each member is better off.
Family therapy gives all family members a safe platform to discuss and process the accumulation of hurt, frustration, feeling unheard, to eventually let go of this unhelpful baggage and move forward with more unity and connection within the household. It may be difficult at first, as each one gets to express what they had been holding in for so long, but eventually, with receptivity to the clinician’s coaching for better communication skills, understanding will be gained and relationships will be mended.
Our family affects who we are and who we become, both for better and for worse. We form most of our ideas about how the world and relationships work from our family-of-origin. Here we believe that treating the family as a whole, with all of its intricate patterns and dynamics, can be more effective than treating the individual alone.
Family therapy may be necessary to address family issues and heal a family’s wounds. If any of the above scenarios resonate with your family, consider contacting us now to set up family therapy with our family therapists Casey Divane or Jennifer Polizzi.