How Family Counseling Can Resolve Conflict In Your Home

Updated November 29, 2022by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Although many families present themselves to the outside world as put-together and polite, chaos may lurk beneath the hopeful presentation of any family. While family arguments, busyness, or strain may not necessarily be signs of significant problems, in some cases, family challenges are severe enough to require professional support. If your family life is primarily characterized by arguments and tension, it may be a sign of a deeper problem that could benefit from family therapy.

Research confirms online family therapy is just as effective as in-person therapy at improving relationship and mental health outcomes for entire families as well as parents and children. If your family could use support learning to constructively navigate conflict, connecting with an online family therapist may help.

Family Counseling Can Help You Resolve Conflict In The Home

Do All Families Experience Conflict?

All families experience conflict, because all families are made of up diverse individuals with different perspectives, communication styles, and preferences. No matter what your family unit looks like, every family is a beautiful blend of individual personalities. But as a result, it’s natural that every family may experience some clashes between different personality types and priorities. No two people are going to agree about everything all the time; even family who are very similar may occasionally experience differences and disagreements, even if they’re as minor as what to have for dinner. And the more people that make up your family, the greater potential for conflicting ideas and opinions. 

For example, imagine a family with a teenage child. The teenager in this family may appear to be testing a lot of boundaries through their fashion sense, music taste, and personal choices. They may appear to be rebelling against their parents by staying out late, skipping school, or doing activities their parents have specifically designated as out of bounds. In this scenario, both the parents and their child may feel frustrated. The teenager may feel as though they are unable to explore their identity and develop their sense of individuality, while the parents may feel concerned and disappointed because they perceive their child’s actions as disrespectful or dangerous.

What Is Family Counseling?

The purpose of family counseling, which is sometimes called family therapy, is to get to the bottom of issues that cause family conflict. These issues may be related to psychological challenges within the household, behavior choices of some family, or emotional dysregulation in the household. A family therapist’s goal may be to help families work through these problems so they can improve their relationships. After helping the family identify these issues, the counselor may then help the family practice positive coping mechanisms and empower them with therapeutic tools that the family can use to solve these problems in the future and relate to one another more healthily.

The Benefits Of Family Counseling

The greatest benefits of family counseling may vary from family to family, because every family may have different goals for family counseling. Each family is unique, just like each individual person, so the best support for each family’s challenges will be different. However, some common benefits of family counseling include:

  • Learning to develop and negotiate healthy boundaries within the family

  • Developing a sense of mutual respect for all family

  • Practicing positive conflict resolution skills for conflict resolution

  • Identifying sources of conflict within the family and learning how to defuse or work through them

  • Improving communication within the family

Whether you consider you family to be in crisis or not, every family may benefit practicing communication skills, showing more respect for one another, and learning positive conflict resolution strategies.

What Can Family Counseling Help With?

Many families seek family counseling to get support for a specific problem, like parent-child conflict or loss of a loved one. Researchers have studied some common presenting problems to family therapy and confirmed that family counseling is an effective modality that helps families work through these challenges, including:

  • Mental health conditions affecting a child, parent, or both

  • Behavioral challenges

  • Disordered eating

  • Childhood trauma like abuse, bullying, or neglect in or outside the home

The efficacy of family counseling is not limited to these specific situations, and many families may benefit from family therapy for a wide variety of concerns. The best way to determine whether family counseling could help your family with your specific situation is to consult with a family counselor.

What To Expect In A Family Counseling Session

The strategies used by a family counselor may vary depending on each family’s unique challenges. While a family therapist may develop an individualized treatment plan for your family, there are some common things you can expect in a family counseling session.

The goal of every therapy session—whether for an individual, a couple, or a family—is to provide individuals with a safe space in which to unpack their feelings and to empower individuals with tools and strategies to solve their problems. 

It's important to note that family counseling may not involve the entire family. Although a family counseling session certainly can be tailored to include every of the family, it’s not an automatic, inherent requirement. Ultimately, regardless of who is included in your counseling session, the goal of family therapy is to provide an environment that will be safe, helpful, and constructive as you work through family challenges together.

One thing your family counselor may do is help you and your family resist the urge to take sides or blame one another for difficulties. A family counsellor is not going to take sides, and they may help you resist the urge to do the same. 

For example, let’s reconsider the example of the teen who is pushing boundaries. Family counseling can help the teenager and their parents to improve communication, understand each other better, and arrive at a mutually agreeable solution. On the surface, it might appear that the teenager is simply rebelling for rebellion’s sake, which can leave the parents feeling disappointed, frustrated, or hurt. If the family has a safe space in which to speak openly and honestly with one another, they may discover that their child feels conflicted or misunderstood and is attempting to discover their own identity. The child may come to understand that those efforts may be occasionally in opposition to the boundaries their parents have set, and the teenager and the parent may be able to work together to help the teenager explore their identity while maintaining respect for their parents’ boundaries.

The parents may also get a chance to show their support for their teenager’s desire to express themselves and discover their own unique sense of identity. Through open communication, the child may come to understand that the parents are not trying to control them or place arbitrary restrictions on their freedom but are trying to enforce reasonable boundaries that will help their teenager stay safe. If the family works through these goals and desires in a family counseling session, they may develop a new sense of mutual understanding and respect. Their counselor may also provide them with positive conflict resolution strategies to help them work towards a compromise that is mutually agreeable for all parties.

The Benefits Of Online Family Counseling

Whether you have a large or a small family, it may be difficult to consistently get the whole group together to attend a therapy session. That’s where online therapy can help. Because online therapy is accessible from home outside of regular business hours, it may be easier for everyone in the family to attend therapy sessions together. Sessions can be scheduled after dinner, on the weekends, or at any time most convenient for all family. 

Takeaway

Whether you want to improve your relationship with your family, get support with unmanageable conflict, or learn to communicate more effectively in your household, family counseling can help. Online family therapy may be a convenient, and accessible option for families looking for support. To get matched with an online family therapist, start by filling out a questionnaire with BetterHelp. 

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