Therapy is no one’s idea of a fun family outing. However, family therapy can help your family enjoy each other’s company more, no matter where life takes you. Families sometimes enter therapy because one member is struggling with addiction or other mental health concerns, but they soon learn that the process holds many more benefits than expected.
What Is Family Therapy?
There is an expectation that family therapy is a place where family members go to air grievances and have their therapist settle arguments. While it is a place for speaking openly, the goal of therapy is to improve communication and help the family unit meet challenges together.
Most therapy sessions last a little less than an hour. Your therapist may recommend meeting one or more times a week and may assign homework to help family members work on certain skills together.
During therapy, family members are free to address whatever topics they feel are causing dysfunction. Discussions might include:
- Reviewing the family’s current communication style
- Identifying the family’s strengths and weaknesses
- Evaluating teenagers’ relationship with their parents
- Examining the family rules and roles
- Reviewing how the family resolves conflicts
Once a therapist has had the opportunity to understand how a family functions, they can suggest new, more productive ways of handling conflicts and dealing with other problems.
Tips for Succeeding in Family Therapy
Just as every family is unique, every family’s experience in therapy is unique. However, no matter what your family is facing, you and your family members can take certain steps to get the most out of your time in therapy.
First, understand that finding the right therapist may be a process. If you don’t feel comfortable with a therapist for any reason or they just feel like a bad fit, it doesn’t mean that therapy isn’t right for your family.
Instead, you likely need a different therapist. As a mental health professional, your current therapist will understand and may even have some recommendations for you.
Once you’ve established a good rapport with your therapist, consider these tips for succeeding in family therapy:
- Show up on time and be ready for the session without distractions
- Bring a list of questions or topics you want to discuss
- Keep an open mind and trust your therapist’s advice
- Maintain respect and compassion for all family members
- Speak your truth, but avoid arguing
- Accept that therapy might sometimes feel uncomfortable in the short term
Finally, follow all of your therapist’s guidelines. Remember, you have agreed to participate in therapy because you need help managing some aspect of your family’s well-being.
The Effect of Parental Involvement in Mental Health
Parents whose teens are struggling with mental health concerns such as substance use disorder or anxiety may feel it is unnecessary to involve the entire family in the therapeutic process. However, more family involvement is the best way to support a child who is having a difficult time.
A paper published by the American Psychiatric Association confirmed that a perceived lack of parental involvement in mental health treatment could actually increase the number and severity of an adolescent’s symptoms, including an increase in suicidal behavior.
Imagine Boise Offers Family Therapy
Parenting is hard, and families can be complicated. Whether the goal is improving your teenagers’ relationship with their parents, helping a child who is struggling with a mental health disorder, or learning to communicate in healthier ways, the caring staff at Imagine Boise can help.