Family therapy can help in numerous ways. The family unit may experience significant stress because of work, school, or the personality differences of various family members. In addition, as children grow and enter new phases in their lives, parents and children may need help in a safe environment to explore ways of coping with these changes. Our clinicians work with families and/or with a parent and a child to help them learn how to navigate transitions, communicate effectively, and develop an empathic, secure connection.
Frequently Asked Questions About Family Therapy
What is the purpose of family counseling/therapy?
Almost every family can benefit from counseling and therapy, regardless of whether their problems are “large” or “small.” Sometimes merely getting an outside, unbiased perspective can be extremely beneficial. At Washington Psychological Wellness, we offer a compassionate, professional, non-judgmental environment where you and your family’s voice and emotions will be heard, honored, and validated. We encourage a safe space where your family will be free to share their worries, fears, and frustrations and be able to converse with a professional who knows and understands what the family unit is going through.
Family counseling & therapy is successful in treating many different types of families in many different situations, including specific issues in which:
- The parents have conflicts within their relationship (marital or financial problems)
- There is a conflict between parents and children
- A child has behavioral or school problems
- Children or teens have problems getting along with each other
- One family member has a long-term (chronic) mental illness or substance abuse problem, such as severe depression or an alcohol use problem, impacting the whole family
- Families that anticipate a significant change in their lives; for example, in divorce and blended families
The purpose of family therapy is to provide family members with a safe space to process, explore, and work through internal difficulties and family counseling & therapy can:
- Teach family members about how families (in general and their own) function
- Help you improve troubled relationships with your spouse, children, and other family members
- Help the family focus less on the scapegoated member and more on the family as a whole
- Strengthen all family members so they can work on their problems together
- Help to identify underlying conflicts and anxieties as well as provide strategies to resolve them
- Provide family members with tools to handle conflicts and changes within the family differently
- Teach family members communication skills to depend family connections, understand one another better, and bring you closer together, even after you are done going to therapy sessions
How does family therapy and counseling help?
Family counseling and therapy can be a very effective means for repairing family wounds, especially if you’re motivated and are committed to attending regular sessions and practicing the tools at home. Setting aside a time and space in which family members can slow down, express themselves, and listen to each other with empathy and compassion can be extremely therapeutic. By having a family dialog in a calm and controlled environment, you can begin to honor each other’s emotions, perspectives, and experiences without reacting from a place of fear, disappointment, or resentment. Moreover, your family therapist can help you attend to your children’s emotional needs and empower them to focus on personal health in the face of family conflict. As a professional specially trained in the art and science of family counseling, your therapist can help you harness your existing strengths as a parent while also teaching you new parenting tools and strategies. Such strategies may include setting appropriate boundaries with your children, coming up with a parenting plan with your co-parent, and using positive discipline approaches. As you begin to practice your new skills at home, you’ll be able to reflect on your family’s unique successes and challenges with your therapist, who can help you further fine-tune your approach.
Family counseling can also help you mend your relationship with your co-parent, whether you live separately or in the same home. During sessions, you and your co-parent can learn to communicate your concerns about your children in healthy ways. More importantly, you’ll develop a concrete parenting plan that honors both of your goals and values as parents and be able to practice implementing a family plan with your children to get everyone on the same page and find collaborative solutions.
Last but not least, your children will have the opportunity to voice their worries, fears, and frustrations as they open up to a trusted, non-judgmental, compassionate ally. By using approaches like art, play, and talk therapy, children and teenagers can express painful emotions, thoughts, and experiences in a language they can relate and understand. They can also learn powerful, long-term communication skills and discover ways to regulate strong emotions like anger, sadness, and anxiety. To learn more about sessions for children and teens, please visit our child counseling and teen counseling pages.
Whether you’re struggling to manage family conflict, a child’s challenging behavior, or are having trouble communicating with your co-parent, family counseling can help you break free from negative patterns occurring in your household. We all have challenges when it comes to raising a family. By uniting on the path toward healing, you’ll be sending the world a powerful message about the strength and resilience of your family.
What can I expect in family therapy and counseling?
In family therapy and counseling we will focus on:
- Your family’s ability to solve problems and express thoughts and feelings
- Family roles, rules, taboos, and behavior patterns to identify issues that contribute to conflict – and ways to work through these issues
- Your family’s strengths such as caring for one another, and weaknesses, such as difficulty confiding in one another
- The family’s strengths are used to help handle problems, and all members take responsibilities for problems
- Family members are often given assignments to remain active in therapy (for example, parents may be asked to delegate more responsibilities to their children)
- The family and the therapist set goals they hope to accomplish together
The family can pursue other types of adjunctive therapy treatment, especially if one member has a mental illness or addiction requiring individual therapy or rehabilitation treatment.
Does family counseling & therapy work if only everyone wants to go?
It is ideal if the whole family is involved. However, even one person working toward healthy communication and boundaries can positively shift the entire family. When members of the family, once resistant to help, see positive changes, they often become more open to the idea of family counseling.
Want to learn more about Family Therapy?