What Is Family Therapy?
Family therapy can be defined as a type of psychotherapy that attempts to reduce stress and conflict by improving communication and interactions between family members. Although it can be misinterpreted, family therapy is no longer just an expensive way to talk to your family. Instead, having a knowledgeable and unbiased third party present for discussions with family members can be necessary for making progress. This arrangement can also be vital for uncovering serious issues and finding resolutions.
In family therapy, therapists apply their skills to challenge a family’s thinking and patterns. Families can develop a new understanding of each other through learned methods and tools. This therapeutic setting can also put more resentful, aggressive, or stubborn family members at ease. To help the process, a mediator will share their insights and advice for integrating more positive communication into these relationships.
Who Can Benefit From Family Therapy?
Not every family member will feel the need to participate in family therapy. However, it’s important to let that family member know that the purpose isn’t because they are broken or need fixing. Instead, their support and presence can help improve outcomes for clients struggling with a mental health disorder, SUD, or both. Family therapy can help improve outcomes for:
- Adjustment periods like a death in the family or divorce
- Attachment disorder
- Conduct disorders
- Facing a chronic illness
- Lack of communication
- Marital problems
- Parenting problems
- Offending behaviors
- Substance addictions
Although family therapy will not entirely cure these issues, it’s still a relevant and effective treatment method to help clients better manage troubling times and strengthen their familial bonds. Mental illness and substance abuse will not always be present where these issues are. Still, these issues will almost always be relevant when a family member is experiencing symptoms of mental illness or SUD.
As both mental health disorders and SUD impact everyone in the client’s life, it makes sense that incorporating these people into the treatment plan would offer support and improvement. Through education and patience during family therapy, every member of a family or group can benefit, often dramatically.
The Positive Outcomes
Yes, family therapy is often introduced as a treatment method for an individual at a rehab facility, but the benefits do not stop at that person. It is called family therapy because it benefits the entire group. Even those who feel they have nothing to gain from sessions may find growth and insight afterward.
Many people participating in family therapy for a loved one in treatment for mental health or SUD will focus on that person’s shortcomings and not consider how their behavior plays a role or could be shifted. Through family therapy, everyone can build the skills necessary to improve themselves and their relationships through:
- Anger management
- Communication skills
- Conflict resolution skills
- Dissolving guilt and practicing forgiveness
- Restoring hope
- Knowledge of mental health and SUD
- Patience and understanding
- Respect for others
- Supporting each other
- Rebuilding trust
These benefits of family therapy are only some of how it can make a difference. It’s important to understand that, like all therapy, this is a process. There is no overnight cure, but all family members must be willing to participate in each session to the fullest extent actively. Over time, everyone will learn new skills and develop a deeper understanding of the person in need or themselves.