Family therapy can be helpful when family relationships feel frayed, when arguing dominates your days, when negative patterns repeat, or when communication becomes conflictual and difficult. Creative approaches to conflict resolution provide valuable tools for understanding, respecting and appreciating one another. With improved communication & understanding, relationships will flourish.
Family therapy 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.
Every individual is, in part, a product of the environment they grew up in. Family plays an important role in our emotional, physical and spiritual development since each individual in the family system impacts and is impacted by the others. For example, one person’s illness can change the lives and interactions of all the other family members.
Family therapy may be helpful to:
Depending on the unique needs and goals of the family, different combinations of family members may participate in each therapy session. The family therapist may give family members assignments to begin addressing some of the challenges identified during therapy.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF FAMILY THERAPY?
Evaluating issues in family therapy can help an individual:
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.
WHAT CONDITIONS/DISORDERS DOES FAMILY THERAPY TREAT?
Anyone seeking healthier, closer family relationships can benefit from family therapy. Family therapy is used to treat a wide range of conditions, including:
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.
(... and the adults who love and care for them)
Kids often have hard feelings, just like adults do. Life can feel sad and confusing and sometimes you can't even find words for what is going on. Therapy can help the bad feelings be less "in charge," and help you feel good again. You may be feeling worried, scared, sad, angry or confused.
Maybe you're having bad dreams, or you are afraid to
leave Mom or Dad, or find yourself feeling cranky all the time. Maybe you're getting into fights or you cry for no reason. It might be because something bad has happened — there may be a lot of arguing or a divorce in your family, maybe someone close to you is sick or you've lost someone you love. It might be hard to get along with other kids, or maybe your school work is just too hard. Bad things can happen to wonderful kids, and it can cause lots of mixed-up feelings and stress.
Child psychotherapy is the creation of a therapeutic relationship which is almost solely focused on the emotional and social well-being of the child. It differs from adult therapy is several important ways:
FOCUS OF TREATMENT
Child therapy is very forward-oriented. Children are always in the process of becoming who they will be, so looking back on past life events, as in adult therapy, to find and re-experience the source of trouble or to problem-solve may be somewhat irrelevant. Child therapists are experts at helping children develop a strong sense of self, emotional strength, good relationships and good communication.
The language of child therapy is largely non-verbal. Child therapists use activity, unstructured play, games and relationship to communicate with children. Children can't always translate actions into words, or feelings into words, so it's important that child therapists be bilingual, speaking both 'adult' and 'child'.
This is a busy world, and sometimes children lose track of themselves and need the experience of true "awareness of self" in an environment that is free of criticism (perceived or real) and expectation. Once this trusting relationship is built with a therapist, the exploration of the true self can begin. This exploration happens because of the therapist's ability to create a therapeutic space in which growth and introspection are welcomed and demonstrated. The child psychotherapist is like a guide through the confusing territory of emotion and development.
Aside from the relief of symptoms, child therapy works on the following five goals:
content © John Berkowitz 2015
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