Family Conflict Resolution With The Help Of Family Therapy

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Erban, LMFT, IMH-E
Updated April 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Although many families may aim for harmony and healthy relationships, challenges and conflict can occur. Family conflict is not an uncommon phenomenon. And while family arguments, busyness, or strain may not necessarily be signs of significant problems, these challenges may require support. In many cases these problems have families wondering how to resolve family conflicts in a healthy way.

If arguments and tension characterize your family life, it could indicate an underlying concern that would benefit from therapy. However, families may also choose to attend therapy without any mental health diagnosis or serious concerns. Therapy can be utilized as a tool for introspection and planning, as well as a check-in on families’ well-being. 

Resolve home conflict in family counseling

Do all families experience conflict?

Many families may experience conflict because families can be made up of diverse individuals and humans offer different perspectives, communication styles, and preferences that must be balanced when living under the same roof. No matter what your family unit looks like, every family may be a blend. As a result, clashes between different personality types and priorities may occur. Two families might disagree or experience rivalry, even if they are forgiven afterward. The more people that make up your family, the greater the potential for conflicting ideas and opinions. 

For example, a teenage family member might appear to be testing boundaries by dyeing their hair, which their parents asked them not to do. In this scenario, the parents and the young person may feel frustrated. The teenager may feel they are unable to explore their identity and develop their sense of individuality and feel that this is worth fighting for. Because of this, they may not express remorse for their actions. In contrast, the parents could feel concerned and disappointed because they perceive their child's actions as disrespectful. They may feel that a brief explanation of “we said no” is sufficient. Neither side may be able see the other person’s point of view. The inevitable tension and hurt feelings in this scenario can make it difficult to resolve the conflict on their own. In this case, family therapy may help bridge the communication gap, and help the family to resolve conflict in a positive way. 

What is family counseling?

Family counseling, often called family therapy, may aim to discover underlying issues or concerns related to family dysfunction or conflict. These issues could be related to psychological challenges within the household, behavioral choices, or emotional dysregulation. 

A family therapist's goal may be to help families work through these problems to improve their relationships. After helping the family identify these issues, the counselor may assist them in practicing positive coping mechanisms and empower them with therapeutic tools to solve future concerns. 

The benefits of family counseling to resolve conflict

The benefits of family counseling may vary from family to family because every family may have different goals for family counseling. Each overall group can be unique like each family culture, so the best support for their challenges can differ.

However, some common benefits of family counseling may include the following: 

  • Learning to develop negotiate and normalize requests for healthy boundaries within the family
  • Developing a sense of mutual respect for all families
  • Practicing positive conflict resolution skills
  • Identifying sources of conflict within the family
  • Improving communication within the family

Whether or not you consider your family life to be struggling, any family may benefit from practicing communication skills, showing 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 the loss of a loved one. Researchers have studied commonly presenting problems in family therapy and confirmed that family counseling is effective in treating concerns like: 

  • Mental health illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia
  • Behavioral challenges
  • Eating disorders 
  • Bullying 
  • Adverse experiences 
  • Communication challenges

The efficacy of family counseling may not be limited to these specific situations, and many families could benefit from family therapy for other concerns. To determine whether family counseling could help your family, consult with a therapist. 

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 therapist may develop an individualized treatment plan for your group, you might expect several techniques. Whether for an individual, a couple, parents and children, or any other family unit, therapists often aim to provide everyone with a safe space to unpack their feelings and find empowerment from tools and strategies personalized to their concerns. 

An individualized approach 

Family counseling may not involve the entire family—a family therapist may work with one person or a large group. Regardless of who is included in your counseling session, the goal of family therapy can be to provide a safe, helpful, and constructive environment as you work through challenges in family relationships.

The reduction of blame 

One aspect your family counselor may help you and your family with is resisting the urge to take sides or blame one another for difficulties. A family counselor may avoid taking sides and help each person be heard.  This can help both sides to see the other person’s point of view.

On the surface, it might appear that the teenager is rebelling for rebellion's sake, which may lead to hurt feelings, disappointment, or ongoing conflict with parents.

Suppose the family has a safe space to speak openly and honestly with one another. In that case, they may discover that their child feels conflicted or misunderstood and is attempting to discover their own identity through making friends. The child may understand that those efforts may occasionally oppose their parents' wishes, and the teenager and the parent may work together to help them explore their identity. 

The parents may get a chance to support their teenager's desire to express themselves and discover their unique sense of identity. Through open communication and positive interactions, the child could gain an understanding that their parents are trying to keep them 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, and work toward authentic repair of their relationship over time. Their counselor could also provide them with positive conflict resolution strategies to work toward a compromise. 

Counseling options for conflict resolution

In some cases, individuals or couples may seek therapy for themselves to understand a more prominent family dynamic. Family concerns can be discussed and unpacked in individual or couples therapy outside family group counseling. Additionally, if you experience barriers to in-person treatment, you can find family counselors in these areas of support online. 

Research confirms that online family therapy is as effective as in-person therapy at improving relationships and mental health outcomes for families, parents, couples, and children. If you feel you would benefit from online therapy, consider a platform like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples. You can also consider searching for family therapists in your area if you'd like to attend therapy as a unit of three or more individuals. 

You can also reap certain benefits like more control over scheduling. In online therapy, you can meet with a therapist outside of the nine to five hours many providers offer in person. For flexibility, you may choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions. 

Takeaway

Family counseling may be valuable if you want to improve your relationship with your family members, get support with challenging conflicts, or learn to communicate more effectively in your household. Reach out to a therapist to learn more about this treatment modality and how to receive support.  
Seeking to explore family concerns in a supportive environment?
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