Family Therapy – what’s all the fuss?

The idea of Family Support (in the form of therapy) often times conjures up images or ideas that seem complicated, painful or even scary. Let’s take a moment to break down some of these misconceptions:


Why & when to seek out Family Therapy?

A family is made up of separate individuals who have a connection to one another. And together they create a group that can be a source of loving, supportive, caring, and enjoyable energy that feeds our spirits. The personalities and energies of everyone in that group contribute to the overall feeling of the group. Like the spokes of a bicycle wheel – their collective strength help maintain the shape and function of the wheel.

Yet, what happens when one of the spokes loosens, gets warped or breaks off altogether? The wheel keeps turning, sure. But the other spokes are stressed, and the entire wheel looks well worn and needing repair. The other spokes quickly show wear and tear and soon a trip to the bicycle shop is needed for a tune up.

This is no different among family members. One member being sick, not involved, stressed or leaving can affect everyone else in the family. And often, not in obvious or direct ways. For example:

  • Exhibiting  symptoms of a problem a sibling is experiencing.
  • Becoming more aggressive at school while parents go through a divorce.
  • Regressing developmentally in anticipation of the birth of a younger sibling.
  • Adult in the family may start having anxiety, overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for young children and aging parents.
  • Teens/Parents are drinking or using prescription or recreational drugs in excess.

All of these behaviors are symptoms and signals that the family’s own ability to heal itself , may need a boost.

Seeking Help

A family psychologist, social worker, clergy person, licensed mental health clinician are some of the options to seek out for support. The experience varies but often involves group and individual sessions. Treatment can be short term. Whatever the identified reason for seeking out support for your family, the therapist’s role after listening to scenarios and symptoms presented is to work on developing specific changes  that can support the family while resolving concerns and issues – such as aggression, establishing a routine, specialized resource identification.

Working with a specialist to support your family is a great way to strengthen and heal the connections that make your family, yours. Your family can be,  an incredible source of strength to all its members.

For further reading:

Misconceptions about Family Therapy

When Do I Need a Family Counselor

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