Family counseling brings parents, siblings and extended family members such as aunts, uncles and grandparents into the treatment process. The family system has its own structure and patterns of communication, which may be defined by parenting style, personalities and other influences. Family counseling is often short term. It may include all family members or just those able or willing to participate. Family counseling sessions can teach you skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you're done going to therapy sessions.
Benefits of Family Therapy
Family therapy is often used in concert with other types of mental health treatment, particularly if one or more family members would benefit from specialized treatment for addictions, eating disorders or other illnesses. Some mental health programs offer a family therapy component while a loved one is in treatment and also encourage each family member to pursue individual therapy.
Understand how their family functions
Identify strengths and weaknesses within the family system
Set goals and develop strategies to resolve challenges
Improve communication skills
Make the entire family stronger
Conditions to Treat
Anyone seeking healthier, closer family relationships can benefit from family therapy. Family therapy is used to treat a wide range of conditions, including:
Problems between siblings
The effects of illness on the family
Studies show that family therapy is particularly important for adults and adolescents struggling with substance abuse, eating disorders, and other emotional and behavioral issues. When the whole family grows, each individual member is better off.
Conflict can happen when family members have contrasting views or convictions that differ. Often times conflict can occur when people misunderstand each other and jump to the wrong conclusion. Issues of conflict that are not resolved peacefully can lead to arguments and resentment. It is normal to disagree with each other from time to time. Occasional conflict is part of family life. However, ongoing conflict can be stressful and damaging to relationships. Some people find it difficult to manage their feelings and become intentionally hurtful, aggressive or even violent. Communicating in a positive way can help reduce conflict so that family members can reach a peaceful resolution.
Common Causes for Family Conflict
It is well recognized that some of the stages a family goes through can cause conflict. These may include:
Learning to live as a new couple
Birth of a baby
Birth of other children
A child going to school
A child becoming a young person
A young person becoming an adult.
Each of these stages can create new and different stresses and potential conflict
Changes in the family situation can also take a toll on the family and contribute to conflict. This may include events such as:
Separation or divorce
Moving to a new house or country
Traveling long distances to work
Commuting interstate for work
Change in financial circumstances
The opinions, values and needs of each parent can also change and they may find they are no longer compatible.
Often times, people assume that parenting is something that should just come naturally. After all, having children generally does. As any parent would agree the challenges associated with bringing up any child, whether they suffer from a psychological disorder or not, are numerous and at times overwhelming. Parents may turn to a number of defense mechanisms that will ultimately worsen the issue. Parent therapy helps parents to manage their stress levels and helps them to develop better coping mechanisms, which in turn provides a healthier more controlled home environment.
Guidelines for Parent-Child Relationships
Failure to complete or turn in homework in a class that does not involve the student's disability.
Try to set a side time on a regular basis to do something fun with your child.
Never disagree about discipline in front of the children.
Never give an order, request, or command without being able to enforce it at the time.
Be consistent, that is, reward or punish the same behavior in the same manner as much as possible.
Agree on what behavior is desirable and not desirable.
Agree on how to respond to undesirable behavior.
Make it as clear as possible what the child is to expect if he or she performs the undesirable behavior.
Look for gradual changes in behavior. Don't expect too much. Praise behavior that is coming closer to the desired goal.
Remember that your behavior serves as a model for your children's behavior.
If one of you is disciplining a child and the other enters the room, that other person should not step in on the argument in progress.
Reward desirable behavior as much as possible by verbal praise, touch or something tangible such as a toy, food or money.
Both of you should have an equal share in the responsibility of discipline as much as possible.
Once you have stated your position and the child attacks that position, do not keep defending yourself. Just restate the position once more and then stop responding to the attacks.