When Is Family Therapy Necessary?

25 March, 2021
Do you feel that your family dynamics are conflictive? In this article, we’re going to explain what family therapy is and when it’s necessary.

Human social relationships are complex, even among family members. Family therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach that seeks to improve the interaction between family members.

In this article, we’ll explain when it’s necessary. In addition, we’ll review some of its most basic principles and tell you which cases it can be effective for.

What’s family therapy?

The goal of family therapy is to detect the main problems that are affecting the members of a family. Therefore, it’s a therapeutic accompaniment process aimed at improving coexistence.

During family therapy, it’s common for issues such as assertive communication, frustration tolerance, and recognition of one’s own emotions and those of others to be addressed. This is done to improve the adaptation capacities of the members of a family.

Licensed psychologists, therapists, and, in some cases, clinical social workers provide this type of therapy. Family therapy is usually short, as its main goal is to solve specific problems.

This article may interest you: What is a Dysfunctional Family and How Does It Affect Children?

What are the benefits of family therapy?

Below, we’ll share a list of the main benefits of seeing a family therapist. In addition to improving assertive communication, it has other important benefits.

A mother and daughter in therapy.
Sometimes, families need professional help to improve their communication.

1. It doesn’t require the participation of the entire family

Although this therapy focuses on improving the family system, not all members need to be present. Only those who feel the need to do so should go.

The therapist will be able to provide the necessary resources to those who attend therapy so that they can be agents of change in their families.

2. It improves communication

Communication ensures healthy family bonds. In many cases, poor communication leads to intense conflicts in families. But once communication improves, problems end.

During the first sessions, the therapist should play the role of “translator” to ensure effective communication between the family members. They’ll try to understand what’s behind behavior patterns or a phrase and give the patients the tools to express themselves.

3. Family therapy strengthens trust in the family

Another aspect that usually leads to conflict in a family is mistrust. When situations destroy trust in a family, the relationships rapidly deteriorate.

To develop trust, the family members need to understand that some things can’t be changed, which is why they need to accept them and move on. They’ll feel a lot better once they do so.

Eventually, they’ll be able to put their trust back in the other members of their family. However, this process doesn’t always occur in the same way in all cases. In some families, relationships may take longer to mend.

4. It prevents future problems

In psychology, there are real and apparent reasons. When a person or family unit goes to therapy, they do it for an “apparent reason”.

As the process continues, the therapist will be able to discover the real reasons behind problems and prevent them from worsening or causing new ones.

5. Reduces aggressiveness

Aggression is natural in all humans, and it allows them to cope with certain situations. When we say that someone is aggressive, we mean that they’re determined. It isn’t the same as being violent.

In family conflicts, it’s common for poorly channeled aggressiveness to end up turning into domestic violence. That’s why one of the main goals of the family therapist should be to reduce aggressiveness and channel their aggression towards more adaptive conflict resolution methods.

When is family therapy necessary?

A family will need the help of a therapist when they’re immersed in a situation that affects all its members. People usually try to seek individualized help first. In that case, the therapist should suggest family therapy.

As we mentioned above, not all family members will decide to participate in the process. It’s best for each family member to go voluntarily, with the desire to apply therapeutic resources in their daily lives.

Every family has problems. However, when conflicts become recurrent and intense, the family unit could crumble. Thus, a family therapist should be consulted when the discomfort becomes long-lasting and intense.

A sad child because his parents are fighting.
Aggression isn’t the same as violence. However, it’s the therapist’s role to channel the former to avoid major problems.

Read on to learn more: How to Treat a Family Member or Friend Who Lies to You

The characteristics of a healthy family

A healthy family, if such a thing exists, is one that faces its conflicts in a functional way without letting the bonds be permanently affected. A series of characteristics are typical of healthy families:

  • Respect for the individual differences of each of the family members
  • Proper care, without falling into overprotection or neglect
  • Healthy living arrangements
  • Rules that aren’t rigid and can be relaxed when necessary
  • Natural communication, without fear of expressing themselves

What to do if your family doesn’t want to go to therapy

If a person’s family refuses to go to therapy, they can decide to go on their own to acquire essential communication skills. Then, they could try to get the other family members to voluntarily involve themselves in the process.

In some cases, the therapist may contact family members to invite them to come to a session. It doesn’t matter if you decide to go to therapy on your own, as this first step could help improve your family’s situation.

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