Does It Feel Like Your Family May Be Falling Apart?
Does your family life seem chaotic? Is there a lot of yelling, blaming and/or crying? Or, possibly you notice yourself or a loved one avoiding conversation altogether. Does your family feel increasingly disconnected? Are you and your partner and/or co-parent struggling to parent your children effectively? It may be that you’re going through a separation or divorce and your children are experiencing feelings of sadness, grief and/or anger. Or perhaps your family is struggling to get along due to different political or religious beliefs. Maybe you are a blended family in need of more peace, calm and understanding at home. Are you struggling with the adoption process, or is your child or teen struggling with being adopted? Maybe your relationship with your teenager has become increasingly tense, and you worry about his or her wellbeing. Or, maybe you’re unsure how to cope with your younger child’s regular tantrums or emotional outbursts. You might know or worry that your child is suffering from depression or anxiety and feel powerless to help. It may be that someone in your family is a victim of abuse or trauma. Do you wish you knew what to do to support a loved one who is going through a tough time or how to help your whole family through a life transition? Do you wonder if your child’s acting out could be a cry for help?
All families have challenges and often a lot of resentment and pent-up feelings. While some people assume that family therapy is only for families with children or teens and for people who live in the same household, you may be a young adult who wants to learn how to relate to your parents and how to help them to see you as adult. Possibly you are a parent who feels that it is time to mend a broken relationship with your adult child. Adults with and without children also seek family therapy for caregiving challenges or coping with ill and/or elderly parents or grandparents. You might be a young adult unexpectedly raising your younger siblings and/or needing to be a caregiver to an adult sibling with an illness or disability.
Struggling with family challenges can be a highly stressful, confusing and even seemingly helpless experience. It may be that your family has recently moved to a new city, suffered a loss or are dealing with another difficult, significant transition. Or it might be that your children fight or experience strong rivalry, or you and your partner have conflicting parenting styles, and you’re not working as a family unit. Maybe you’re preparing to welcome a new child or navigating life with a newborn and the change is causing your other children to act out or shut down. Alternatively, you may be going through a career change or struggling to cope in an empty nest.
Regardless of the specifics that are transpiring, it may be that you want to develop healthy boundaries and foster good communication amongst your family members, yet your attempts at trying to help everyone get along continue to fail. Perhaps you wish there was a way to allow strong emotions to exist without taking over and causing conflict. In preparing for a major life change, such as divorce or marriage, it may be that you would you like to be able to talk about potentially uncomfortable topics without blame or conflict. Do you wish you knew how to create emotional safety and new ways to support your partner and/or children, allowing your family to have more lighthearted fun and joy?
Families Are Important, Complex Systems That Often Break Down
Licensed Marriage and Family therapists (often known as LMFT’s) are specifically trained to view families as systems that, when functioning optimally, can be strong support networks for all of their individual members. On the other hand, if one member is having challenges or if families have unhealthy or unproductive communication patterns, the entire family will be impacted. Because of this, family therapy is often more effective than individual counseling in treating eating disorders, adolescent challenges, chronic and physical illnesses, obesity and alcoholism, among other issues. Family therapy allows members to move through challenges more quickly and effectively, focuses on ensuring that every member in the family system is learning the same skills and is on the same page with recovery plans and strategies to move forward. After receiving treatment, over 90 percent of families report feeling significantly better, and attending therapy as a family can also be a preventative resource to help deal with future challenges.
Often, families also need assistance when moving through transitional phases. When going through a tough time, a family therapist’s insight and support can be invaluable. Families that have support through transitions are able to adjust more easily to new routines and establish new goals that benefit everyone. Sometimes just the opportunity to talk openly and constructively about a family challenge or transition is enough to bring about positive change.
No matter what the developmental stages of your children or the challenges your family is facing, a skilled, understanding and experienced family counselor can help you interrupt ineffective behavior patterns, communicate honestly and plan proactively for the future. You can learn new ways to interact with and support one another, resolve conflict and move forward with more joy and ease.
Family Therapy Can Help Your Family Become A Strong, Healthy, Support Network
One of the most important aspects of family therapy is helping families identify patterns of behavior and communication that are unhelpful to the family system. I help family members learn new ways of relating or new “dance steps” to get along better. Therapy provides a space to learn and recognize how your family can “team-up” against a negative cycle of interaction. This allows not only you as individual to function better, but for the whole family to become better functioning, creating closer connections and decreasing yelling matches and criticism. Families can begin to enjoy their interactions as opposed to avoiding and/or dreading them.
Often families have difficulty solving problems because members are not listening well to one another, due to their own emotional reactions and/or built up resentment. Sometimes families just need better tools to express feelings in way that increases healthy bonds or attachments. Sometimes, people are concerned that family therapy will be chaotic with so many people, but actually, by having multiple family members in a session, there are many more resources in the room. My background as a LMFT enables me to assess needs across a range of potential challenges. I love collaborating with families to help them overcome obstacles both on an individual and systemic level. Most of all, I help each family member’s voice heard and honored. When family members begin to relate to each other in more productive and meaningful ways, amazing things can happen.
Family counseling is strength based and solution focused, and tends to be briefer than other forms of therapy. There is often an end goal in mind, and with the help of relevant family members, challenges can be overcome efficiently. Marriage and Family Therapists or simply LMFT’s have a deep understanding of family dynamics and view everything through a relational lens. In safe, guided family therapy sessions, I won’t just focus on specific problems in your life. Rather, I’ll look at your family system in its entirety and help identify surrounding factors that may be coming into play. I take a holistic approach to growth and healing, am interested in the long-term health and happiness of your family and will equip you with tools that can set you up for future success. Throughout our work together, I can help you identify unwanted behaviors and strategize ways to replace them with a more positive, productive way of living.
When your family comes in, I’ll ask to hear everyone’s perspective on the problem, change or challenge you are facing. Together, we’ll get to the root of what’s going on and collectively strategize ways for your family to team up against the problem and kick it out of the house. Nobody will be blamed and everybody’s voice will be heard and incorporated into creating the solution. I can also help you identify what is working in your family system so you can build upon these strengths to overcome potential roadblocks. As the most important work will be done outside therapy sessions, I’ll also give you therapy tasks to take home and apply as a family.
I’ve successfully worked with families in multiple settings with diverse populations, including helping families in hospitals, pain and cancer clinics, psychiatric settings, victim advocacy centers, schools, homes, and many more. I know through experience that solutions can be found for even the most difficult challenges. Whatever situation your family is in, I can help you use your strengths to get back on track and functioning optimally. Through learning new tools and skills, you can adjust your course and become a more effective, happier family.
You still may have questions or concerns about family therapy…
Does everyone need to attend family therapy?
Even if only one family member is struggling, working as a family unit can be the most effective way to find and implement effective solutions. And, it’s extremely helpful for the entire family to operate in a way that supports the struggling member. Attending therapy as a family is also an opportunity to overcome any stigma that may be associated with seeking therapy, and is a strong gesture of support and solidarity for the person experiencing challenging times.
My child or significant other is the one with the “problem.” How will family therapy help?
Possibly you have been searching for an individual therapist for your child or loved one and may not have considered attending therapy as a family. It is not uncommon for one person in the family to be viewed as the one with the problem or the person needing the most help. I often hear things like, “If Kate would just change this or that behavior, everything would run smoothly,” or “If my husband or his father would just manage stress better, everyone would be fine.” And, while I understand that individuals do bring challenges that can be hurtful or scary to other family members, it is often very helpful to look systemically at problems. Rather than a problem belonging solely to “Kate” or “Dad”, how is “Kate” or “Dad” doing in the context or his or her family and other environments? After a first session or even sometimes an initial phone consultation, I can provide you with an idea of whether family, individual or a combination of therapies might be best for your family.
I’m afraid you’re going to blame me (or one person) for the family’s problems.
Blame is extremely unhelpful and ineffective in treating and overcoming both individual and family issues. I view the family as a system, and rather than assigning blame or targeting one person, will identify areas requiring attention, which the entire family can focus benefit from.
You Can Feel Confident And Secure In Your Family
If you’re ready to begin taking steps toward improving your family dynamics, I can help. Call 972-489-2658 today for a free 15-minute phone consultation. I can answer any questions you have. We can also set up an initial meeting where you’ll be able to relax in a comfortable environment and better understand the benefits of working with a marriage and family therapist.