What Happens in Family therapy sessions? by Rediscover Psychology

Family Therapy | What Happens in Family therapy sessions?

The main goal of participating in family therapy, also known as family counselling, is to examine your family’s ability to solve problems that arise. It is aimed at fixing the health and function within the family unit. Strategies are put into place to help each family member express their thoughts and emotions in a manner that is productive rather than deconstructive. The family roles are discussed and there is an uncovering of rules and behaviour patterns to see what contributes to conflict. The goal with family therapy is to find constructive ways to work through conflict and issues. The requirement is that all members of the family participate to work through the issues.

Why do people go to family therapy?

Family therapy is used to work through difficult feelings and experiences in a safe place. Many of the problems that come up in the family affect the individual members in their workplace, relationships, health, and other areas. The most common reasons families go to family counseling are to overcome conflict, enhance communication skills, and apply better coping techniques.

What are the main issues that family therapy treats?

This type of therapy is used to improve communication skills to help with any problems that arise. A family is made up of numerous people that bring their own beliefs and values surrounding finances, parenting styles, and personalities. By using clear communication methods in the family unit, it makes establishing clear rules and boundaries possible.

Parent-child conflicts

When parent-child conflicts arise, family counseling is an effective tool that guides the family to address problems before they worsen. Whether you are dealing with a teenager or a substance/behavioural dependency with gambling, alcohol or drugs this type of therapy will help by working to the root of the problems. Substances are often a coping mechanism in dealing with interpersonal, intrapersonal conflict and mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or stress. Confidence, self-esteem, and support are other things worked out in therapy. Depression, grief or loss, illness, and phobias are all big reasons to go to family therapy.

Relationship conflicts

Relationship issues like divorce, separation or marital problems are reason enough to go to family counselling. Children experience emotional pain when parents are unhappy. Dealing with betrayal, loss of intimacy and even divorce are reasons enough to enroll the family in therapy.

Another area that could warrant family therapy is any major change in the family system. An adjustment to the birth of a new baby, divorce, remarriage, jobless or retirement, or the death of a loved one are such events that change the family dynamics. Family therapy will help work through the problems that arise and develop a plan to deal with them.

What is the most common approach to family therapy?

With any therapist the techniques used with high success are ones determined by the theoretical viewpoint of the therapist and the family’s specific requirements. These include behavioural techniques, cognitive restructuring techniques, narrative techniques, psychodynamic techniques, systemic family therapy, Gottman techniques, emotion focused therapy and structural therapy.

At ReDiscover, the most prevalent approaches in family therapy are the Gottman approach and emotion focused therapy approach both of which use an emotional coaching style. Some of the key elements are to approach family conflict with a problem-solving attitude, use “I” statements rather than “you” to alleviate the blame put on others, take a break when feeling emotionally flooded, practice compromise, and have a follow up conversation after the conflict.

Structural therapy is another popular approach. The family is seen as a unit where each member has a specific role that they fulfill and when these roles are deviated from conflict comes up. The power of family therapy is that it helps improve communication and work through conflict in a constructive rather than destructive manner. Understanding other family members’ feelings helps to create a positive home environment.

What approach is not used with family therapy?

At ReDiscover Psychological the therapists will not use any form of conversion therapy. We believe in inclusion and will see all types of family structures.

The focus of family therapy is to help the couple, or family change their behaviour by doing an in-depth examination of how they behave and think about one another. A heavy emphasis is placed on the core beliefs that each person holds. This approach also has the therapist help the couple recognize any unhelpful thinking patterns born out of misinformation. From this realization there is a restructuring of thinking to change future behaviour and ultimately the relationship dynamics.

In therapy family members talk about their hopes and experiences while also listening to one another. This counselling helps the family members to clarify beliefs, values, needs, hopes and assumptions so that everyone understands one another. This type of therapy helps the family to grow closer by identifying their blind spots and working on strengthening communication skills.

One of the biggest reasons family therapy is effective is that it sees the family as a unit rather than pinpointing all the issues on one person in the family.

What should be expected from family counseling and how should one prepare for it?

The first step is to set up an initial consultation. This is where you meet the therapist and give specific information about what is bothering you and discuss the goals for treatment. The therapist can assess the needs and determine if family therapy is the right approach.

The next thing is to keep an open mind during family therapy as this will make it much more effective. It is best to think of this time as an opportunity for change and growth. Success is more likely if you prepare the family, so they also keep an open mind when attending sessions.

Identify specific behaviours, problems, and goals for the family unit. This will ensure you are more prepared when conflict arises and know how to use the tools and strategies established in therapy.

Get the right therapist support today

Finding a therapist that works with you and your family is crucial to your success as a family. You will want to interview your potential therapist to be sure it is a good fit since this person will be immersed in your family dynamics.