A family is the primary support system for love, concern, strength, and support. But changes in family dynamics or traumatic events surrounding the family negatively affect even the closest family relationships. Dealing with these problems internally may take a long time, dragging out and complicating the issue. While family psychiatry isn’t an exactly accurate term, family therapy or counseling, is a tool many utilize to help improve relationships in the family. Family counseling can serve as a tool to help you understand yourself and other family members better.
Psychiatry on the other hand, is practiced by medical doctors or physicians with a degree in medicine. They specialize in the study, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of emotional, mental, behavioral, and developmental issues, working with individuals rather than family groups.
As medical doctors, they are able to prescribe medications that help to improve chemical imbalances in the brain. They often work in conjunction with counselors and therapists to treat an individual and typically meet every few weeks to months as a time.
Family therapy is a form of therapy that enhances communication and interactions among family members. These professionals help identify and adjust your feelings and interactions with other members.
Some families take it up as a temporary measure for conflict resolution and a better understanding of other members. Others use it as an ongoing tool to foster their family relationships for better behavior and mental health.
Reasons for Family Therapy
The primary focus of family therapy is bringing families together by maintaining healthy relationships. These are the most common reasons families have therapy sessions:
- When a family member is dealing with an addiction
- When the family goes through a traumatic event like death, loss of property, natural disasters, or after a move
- A difficult parent-child relationship
- Spousal differences
- Change in your family structure, like having a newborn
- When a family member is dealing with an illness that needs your support and helps
- It can also increase healthy communication and connection between family members
Any internal or external stressors can cause strained family relationships. Mental health professionals can assist your family in working through varying feelings (anger, sadness, grief, anxiety) to deepen connection and build healthy relationships within the family system.
Family therapy can help family members cope if a relative has a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia. While the family attends counseling together to learn how to support each other and the individual with mental illness, the person who has schizophrenia should continue with their individualized treatment plan, which may include medications, one-on-one therapy or other treatment.
Family therapy looks similar when dealing with addiction. The family can attend family therapy while the person who has an addiction participates in residential treatment. Sometimes it may be beneficial for the family to participate in family therapy even if the person with an addiction hasn't sought out his or her own treatment. This may provide the family with coping skills and boundaries to help maintain some normalcy in their lives while the one suffering with the addiction finds their way.
What Are the Goals in Family Therapy?
Family therapists aim to repair strained relationships through communication and understanding. They explore the different family dynamics that cause relationship strains. If your child or spouse has a drug or gambling addiction, therapists help you understand how to cope with them as they rehabilitate. You'll know how to communicate and build empathy to help them through the process. This builds and strengthens your family's love and support.
Meeting as a family helps build cohesion to improve the family's functionality. These professionals help you develop and respect people's boundaries. The difference in personalities is a significant cause of conflicts in families. With therapy, every member can establish their boundaries which helps them grow and have meaningful and intended interactions that build your family unit.
Therapists are trained to help with common issues facing modern families these days such as problems arising from cross-generational boundaries, such as when parents share a home with grandparents, or children are being raised by grandparents. A general goal in this scenario could be to improve communication and help the family members set healthy boundaries.
More and more families are deviating from social norms such as, unmarried parents or gay couples raising children. The goal here may not be to address any specific internal problems, but the family members may need help coping with external factors like societal attitudes.
Similarly, family members who come from mixed racial, cultural, or religious backgrounds, the goal may be to help family members further their understanding of one another and develop healthy relationships as well as cope with societal attitudes.
By understanding people's behavior, the family prevents conflicts and has a well-structured problem-solving process. Reducing conflicts depends on how well the family understands and respects each other. The experts equip you with problem-solving skills to help you work out your issues wholly and internally.
Benefits of Family Therapy
Family therapy allows families to express themselves and find solutions to their problems. You gain essential behavioral, problem-solving, strategy-making, and communication skills that help you keep your family together.
Therapy offers insight into other family members to help you understand and interact with them. It's easy to form strong bonds and relationships in family units when people understand each other. They understand their limits, boundaries, and reactions, which helps prevent and deal with conflicts as they arise.
Therapy eases your fault-finding process in the family: you identify the trigger factors for most conflicts. This helps in preventing disputes that affect the family's peace and unity.
The Impact of WHOA
WHOA professionals focus on improving family connections and relations through emotions and behavior. The experienced and knowledgeable professionals offer strategies for long-term success in family relationships and psychological health. Family therapy boosts your mental health and strengthens core family relationships.
WHOA offers many different services to meet the needs of both individuals and families. We have licensed counselors, psychiatric services, group therapy, and even equine therapy programs. If you are looking for mental health support for you, your family, or a family member in Henrico VA, please reach out to WHOA to see what we can offer you.