What is Family Therapy?
Our family life is the foundation for our choices, attitudes, and reactions throughout our lives. Our early family experiences influence how we choose our life pathway, raise new families, cope with difficult situations, and engage in current relationships. Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy established to reduce familial distress and conflict by improving the interactions and relationships between family members. Family therapy can be beneficial when facing difficult situations, like the death of a family member, a separation or divorce, adjustments to a major life transition that impacts the entire family, or a family/parental conflict. Family therapy predominantly focuses on relationships within the family unit and therefore takes place with other family members present. It may be the primary focus of treatment, or it could be used in tandem with individual therapy.
What does a Family Therapy session look like?
In Family Therapy, the family is seen as a "whole" system, rather than just as the sum of its individual members. Similar to individual and group therapy, Family Therapy is used to approach a wide variety of therapeutic goals.
Rather than viewing issues as maintained and caused by a particular family member, Family Therapy aims to identify the ways that conflict and individual problems are caused and maintained by the family dynamics. For example, if a child is having academic and behavioural problems, the focus of therapy will be on discovering the family patterns that have contributed to the child’s problematic behaviors, instead of working intra-psychically with the individual child.
During your first session, your therapist will ask a number questions to evaluate and understand your family’s patterns of communication as well as the smaller dynamics and "subsystems" within the family. Other information that is frequently gathered in your first session includes: your reason for seeking therapy at this time, the relationships between various family members, your family histories, past experiences you may have had in therapy, and more fully exploring your goals concerning family therapy.
Mind + Zest family therapists also focus on the different "roles" that each family member takes on, and the communication styles (both verbal and nonverbal) expressed among family members. Moreover, the therapist will collaborate with you to explore how the family interacts as a whole.
You and your family therapist will work together to pursue the best course of action and frequency of sessions. It is common for our clients to meet at least once a week, but this can vary.
Research has demonstrated that one of the most important predictors of obtaining success in therapy and counselling is the relationship between you and your therapist. At Mind + Zest, we take this research to heart. Our counselors will collaborate with you to develop a therapeutic plan that is tailored to your strengths, goals, and desired areas of change. Typically, most clients will have a sense of when their counselling goals have been reached. This sense of success typically emerges when you have overcome significant issues in your life and notice new feelings and changes in your behaviours. You may notice an increase in energy, mood, enthusiasm, motivation, general well-being, and interest, and you will gain the confidence to tackle new challenges on your own.
Successful counselling also depends on sustaining contact and momentum with your counselor. By regularly attending sessions, progression and healing is attained more quickly than when sessions are spread far apart or occur irregularly. Most of our clients find weekly sessions the most productive, while some individuals find bi-weekly or twice-a-week sessions as most effective.
If you or someone you know is struggling, don't hesitate to reach out. The Mind + Zest team here to help. Click below and get connected to a therapist as quickly as today!