Can A Family Therapist Help Improve Your Family Dynamic?
By: Samantha Dewitt
Updated March 05, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Does your family seem to struggle just to communicate? Maybe you have a young child, or an adolescent that you think has some kind of behavioral problem. Maybe you have a parent with a substance abuse problem, or maybe you're going through a divorce, just created a blended family or just aren't even sure what's going on, but you think that your family could be better. No matter what it is that you're going through, the short answer is that a family therapist can most definitely help you to improve the way that your family interacts with one another and the way that you continue to develop as a family.
What Is A Family Therapist?
Usually, when you go to therapy, the person that you're talking to is there for you and only you. They may talk about different thoughts, feelings and opinions you may have with a goal of making you a better person. But when you're talking about a family therapist, you're talking about someone who is trying to make your family unit stronger. They're looking at ways to make sure that each of you is positively interacting with one another, whether you are happy with each other at the moment or not.
A therapist for your family is responsible for helping you to learn how to interact with one another no matter what the situation. After all, families are going to have disagreements, and you're likely going to fight once in a while, but if you know how to communicate more effectively those disagreements can be reduced, and your family can learn how to understand one another. It's a lot more difficult to fight when you understand what the other person is saying and how the situation is affecting them.
Why You Might Want A Family Therapist
There are some different reasons that you might want a family therapist. If one member of your family is struggling with something, whether it's anger problems, depression, anxiety, eating disorder, substance abuse, alcohol abuse or anything else it can affect the entire family. These kinds of behaviors cause the individual to act differently than the rest of the family may be used to. Working through them is also going to cause changes in behavior, and it's going to require family members to be sensitive and to react differently to experiences and interactions.
By going to see a family therapist your entire family will learn how to react when that struggling member of the family needs support or how to react when they seem to be slipping up. They'll learn what it takes to provide them with what they need to be successful in achieving their goals and what they don't need (someone who is going to enable them). Going to a family therapist can help with these types of dynamics, but that's not the only reason that you might want to see one.
You can go to a therapist if a member of your family has been diagnosed with an illness or if you're going through a divorce or going through a remarriage. Any of these situations can be extremely hard on a family, and the different thoughts and feelings that come from them can be difficult for any member of the family to articulate. That's when it can be a good idea to talk with a therapist who can help to decipher some of the behaviors from different members of your family as their response to the situation.
Another important reason to see a family therapist is if your entire family seems to be struggling. Maybe you just don't know how to communicate with one another. Maybe you think your child has an attitude, or they think you just don't understand them (okay, that's every relationship). No matter what's going on, talking with a therapist will help you learn to communicate more effectively and start improving the relationship that you have so that you can create a stronger bond and a healthier one at that. Your family should never have to deal with constant fighting or even sporadic fighting that's intense or dangerous.
The important thing, when seeking out a family therapist, is finding someone that you can all feel comfortable with. This is likely going to be difficult, but you absolutely can find someone that your children, your partner and you all like and that's going to be important. Each of you is going to need to open up to the therapist, and if you're not comfortable with them, that's never going to happen. When you do open up, you need someone who is going to be just as receptive to what your child says as they are to what the adults say and vice versa.
Try meeting with a therapist at least a few times just to get informational sessions and to see how everyone seems to gel with them. They may even want to have individual sessions with members of the family to start with just to get a foundation of what's going on from everyone's point of view. By going through these sessions, you can get a better idea of how everyone in the family feels about the therapist. Though you'll have to keep in mind that children and adolescents may be against the idea to start with.
As you continue to speak with a therapist, you'll be able to learn more about yourself as well as about your family. The entire group of you will go through activities and tasks and homework that's designed to bring you closer together. Sure, your children are meant to start growing up and having their own lives, but you should still be able to have a good relationship with them where you feel like you can talk and they will listen or where they feel like they can come to you with anything that might be going on in their lives.
Getting The Professional Help
Make sure that you're receptive to whatever is going on in your therapy sessions. Make sure that you give it a chance for the sake of every member of your family. You might think that some of the sessions or some of the homework is silly or unimportant, but you never know what it is that one of your family members needs to feel more secure or to start opening up a little bit more. Being open to the opportunities that arise when it comes to therapy is going to be the first and most important step along the way.
Also, make sure that you talk to your kids about their thoughts and feelings about therapy sessions. Find out what they think and what they like or don't like. Continue to try to talk with them and open up with them even when the therapy sessions are over. When you can show them that you're really trying to make changes and you're not just putting on an act for the therapist you're going to be closer to making a huge difference in all of your lives. And that's really what it's all about, don't you think?
When it comes to finding a family therapist the first thing you should do is start looking online. You may be surprised just what kind of therapist you can find when you broaden out your horizons and start looking at the options around the world. If you live in a small town, the options for a therapist could be very limited. Even if you live in a large town or city, it doesn't mean that someone is located close enough for you to go to them regularly. That's where online therapy excels.
With online therapy, you and your family can connect from anywhere with an internet connection. That can be great because it means that the family doesn't need to be in the same room to have a session either. It also means that you don't have to be in the same physical location as our therapist. You can just log on and hold your session from wherever you want. Whether that means you're having a session while on vacation, or it means you're having one from the comfort of your own home, you're going to have a whole lot more freedom.
All you need to do is log on to BetterHelp and find the therapist that's going to work out best for you and your family. Find someone that you can feel comfortable with, someone that you know is knowledgeable and experienced and definitely someone that is waiting to communicate with every member of your family. Improving your family dynamic is always a worthy goal. It's worthwhile to look for ways to improve the way that you communicate with your partner and with your children and to make sure that everyone knows that you're there for them and supporting them, every step of the way.