Families come in all shapes and sizes. Your family can be your biggest support system or a toxic trigger to substance abuse or mental health issues. Most of us fall somewhere in between on this spectrum, yet one thing is sure; all families can benefit from family therapy. Here are 10 reasons why family therapy is important.
The first and foremost reason why family therapy is important is that it can provide a safe environment for family members. When there is chaos in the home, it isn’t easy to feel secure enough to express needs. Resentment and anger can build up, which can lead to toxic relationships.
When your family attends therapy, the therapist provides a safe space through ground rules. These may include guidelines like no yelling or foul language, allowing family members to express themselves freely without interrupting, and permission for members to take a time out if they feel overwhelmed.
It may take a few sessions for all family members to trust the process and open up. But once safety is the norm, the necessary hard work can happen.
2. Family Therapy Helps Educate on Mental Health Issues
Suppose you or one of your family members is struggling with severe depression or anxiety. You may recognize there is a problem but aren’t sure how to ask for help or be a support. In this situation, family therapy is essential to help everyone understand what is happening.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 42 million adults have mental health issues and more than 20 million have substance abuse disorders. Chances are, someone in your family is affected by one or both. Talking to a family member about a mental health issue can be difficult. A qualified therapist can help educate family members on mental illness and provide ways to be of support. For additional information on how to talk to family members about your mental health, click here.
3. Family Therapy Is Essential for Recovery from Addiction
shows why family therapy is important: involving family members in substance abuse treatment has positive long-term effects, whereas negative family support increases the risk of relapse.
If you or a loved one suspects there might be an addiction issue
, the first step to recovery is to have a substance abuse assessment by a qualified addiction specialist.
Depending on the symptoms and severity of use, the person may need inpatient treatment at a residential treatment facility that involves support from the entire family system. For more information, call Transformations Mending Fences at (888) 908-8412.
4. Family Therapy Can Help Heal Trauma
Traumatic experiences affect family dynamics. Trauma is perceived differently, and each person deals with it differently.
For example, perhaps you had a babysitter when you were young who violated you in some way. You told your parents, and they minimized your concerns by not listening or telling you that you were overreacting. Maybe your parents even forgot about the incident, but it has been causing you trust issues for years.
Addressing these experiences with a qualified family therapist fosters healing and growth. Additional individual trauma work, such as EMDR
, may be necessary, but having family members there to acknowledge your feelings can be powerful and supportive.
5. Family Therapy Improves Communication Skills
Learning healthy communication skills is another benefit of family therapy. Many families get into the habit of blaming or shaming when trying to express their needs.
Specific tools such as “I messages” are invaluable to communicating and understanding how one person’s behaviors affect another. Exercises like role-playing in therapy sessions help to practice skills.
It is important to remember that your family’s communication style has taken years, even decades, to develop, so the more you can work on healthy communication, the better the outcome. That’s why family therapy is important.
6. Family Therapy Clarifies Roles
Like it or not, families develop specific roles that each family member plays that affect daily interactions. Some typical roles
include the hero, the scapegoat, the lost child, and the mascot.
Family therapy is important because it can help identify and clarify these roles within the family in a non-threatening way. Understanding roles leads to a better understanding of toxic patterns.
Once family roles and patterns are identified, the family therapist will help each family member set boundaries.
7. Family Therapy Helps Set Boundaries
Boundaries exist where one person ends and another begins. They can be physical, sexual, emotional, or mental, as well as spiritual and religious. Boundaries can be very close, distant, or healthy.
For example, if your brother is constantly in trouble and your mom is continually bailing him out, this is a boundary issue. Or maybe your sister acts aloof and better than the rest of the family; this is a boundary issue.
Family therapy is important because it helps participants recognize these toxic patterns and teaches each family member skills for setting healthy boundaries. The balance is caring for others’ needs while paying attention to your own.
8. Family Therapy Can Solve Specific Problems
Problem-solving as a group unit can be especially challenging for families. Everyone has their own perspective and opinion. Going to family therapy for a specific problem is a great way to learn problem-solving skills that can be used for future issues.
Family therapy can help to define a problem, get everyone’s input and perspective on it, and brainstorm possible solutions. The pros and cons are then listed about each solution, and the group decides on the best one. Finally, a plan is developed for how to implement the solution.
The family therapist becomes somewhat of a mediator in the session, and the solution decided upon can be evaluated in the next session.
9. Family Therapy Helps Identify Individual Strengths
Families are somewhat like sports teams. Each member has qualities they are good at and some that they struggle with, yet each can contribute in some way.
Some family therapists believe that families have everything they need to heal dysfunctional patterns. Focusing on each individual’s strengths can be a very powerful tool.
Focusing on strengths and solutions can help families to set their batting lineup in the best possible order for success.
10. Family Therapy Can Create a Healthy Home Environment
Your home should be a safe place, and family therapy can help create a comfortable and healthy space for all family members. These can range from the actual space (who shares a room with whom) to chores, meals, etc.
With honesty, negotiation, and compromise, family therapy can help settle debates that have been ongoing for years. This, of course, takes time and effort, yet it is possible.
Finally, let’s not forget fun! Laughter, recreational activities, and family game nights can help create a strong family bond and memories for years to come. Getting to this point is why family therapy is important, after all.
Each family is unique, with its own quirks and patterns. It is important to remember that no family is perfect, and almost every family can use some therapy.
Each member of a family deserves a safe environment in which to express themselves. Family therapy is hard work, but once roles are clarified, communication skills learned, and boundaries set, your family can be your most incredible support system.
Family therapy is vital when one or more family members struggle with complex issues like mental health, addiction, and trauma. With education and support, a family can make all the difference.
For more information about these 10 reasons why family therapy is important or any other questions, call Transformations Mending Fences at (888) 908-8412. They are happy to help, and you and your family are worth it!