Please see the links at the bottom to hear Dr. Post discuss family related issues
Q. Don’t all families have problems at some point?
A. Real-life families do. Whether the issue stems from a lack of understanding between those involved, sibling conflict, or difficulties with a child, a tough situation can affect the entire family. Family therapy can be helpful when problems arise and can help restore and improve communication.
Q. When does family therapy make sense?
A. Parenting and family issues are often intertwined. While not a complete list, some common situations that may benefit from family therapy include:
- Loss of a life, good health, a job or any loss;
- Substance abuse within the family;
- Single parenthood;
- Parental disagreements;
- Navigating co-parenting during and after separation and divorce;
- Problems that emerge when divorced parents enter new relationships;
- Teenagers experiencing behavioral issues, such as angry outbursts;
- Sibling conflict;
- Coping with a child or parent’s mental illness, physical illness, or addiction;
- Domestic violence;
- Conflict that arises when parents and children face fewer chances to be together.
It’s not uncommon for families to face challenges that warrant proactive, professional help to prevent issues from snowballing. It need not be an emergency to check in with a therapist.
Treatment methods vary and depend on an individual or family situation. The healing process may focus on improving communication between family members, as well as finding healthy ways to resolve conflict. Setting clear boundaries and communicating effectively as a parental unit can set a good example for your children and/or help you improve your relationship with your spouse. If your child suffers from a genetic disorder or a mental health condition, family and individual therapy can help parents cope with the added strain and responsibilities. You don’t have to face parenting and family challenges alone. A mental health professional can help parents and families develop acceptance and skills to repair damaged relationships.
Q. How can family therapy help?
A. Family therapy can help open lines of communication and help family members understand each other’s perspectives. This makes it easier to resolve disputes. During the therapy sessions, each member will learn ways to communicate better and develop techniques to de-escalate arguments, while ensuring that everyone is heard. This can also help with parenting problems, such as conflicting parenting styles, rule enforcement and remaining consistent with your child once the rules are established.
Q. How is it accomplished?
A. Family therapy can be used in addition to individual treatment. The goal is to improve relationships, methods of communication and conflict resolution. Families are a unique ecosystem, and issues affecting one member of a family can reverberate and affect the whole unit. Additional benefits of this type of therapy are that, in some instances, the sessions can heal emotional wounds in a short period of time. It’s not uncommon when family therapy is recommended that one family member is identified as the patient and source of the problem. The family comes into therapy in the hope of fixing that family member so as to resolve the family problem. In the process of therapy, what becomes clear is that it is not this individual in isolation who is causing the problem. Each family member plays their own unique role in contributing to the family dynamic that led them to seek family therapy. Once people understand their role, each family member can pivot, take ownership of their behavior and relate to each other differently – helping to foster healthier family relationships.