Family Counseling is recommended any time a child is being seen for therapy at any age. Family Counseling provides the entire system the support to understand and become more effective at communicating with each other. There is a common misconception that lack of “communication” or poor communication one person’s behalf is the reason for family troubles. It is impossible to not communicate. Most people do not realize that 7% of communication is verbal leaving 93% of communication to vocal and visual cues. Our therapists are trained to help families learn the characteristics of good communication and bad communication. Productive communication is the foundation of any healthy family system, and a focus of family therapy.
In addition to communication, our therapists are trained in treating the family as a system. Typically, one member of the family is identified as the one with symptoms, be it depression, anxiety, addiction, etc. In response to the identified patients symptoms, other members of the family seek homeostasis, or staying in a stable, albeit, dysfunctional pattern of interaction. When one member of the family is “symptomatic” the other members seek homeostasis, or predictability by adopting roles. Some relatively consistent family roles are known as: perfectionist, placater, mediator, jester, and enabler (alcoholic family systems). Family therapy is an opportunity for each individual to become more conscious of the role they play in the family. Once each member is conscious of their role, the individuals have more freedom in continuing to act out the role, or to abandon the role for a healthy, more adaptive response to the family system.
The final element of family therapy is building cohesion. What make families unique to the individuals life span is the bonding that happens over time. Yes, it can seem like the bonding might be that of “trauma bonding” or what happens when people bond during intense emotional experiences. But, the bonding can also be intentional and purposeful. Family therapy is an opportunity to understand that families are the foundation in which we as individuals learn about the “rules” that govern our life. The rules can be explicit or implicit – “don’t eat with elbows on the table,” or “crying is for weak people,” and those rules carry into adulthood without proper exploration and intention. Family therapy can unpack the rules that have governed the family, and if those rules are causing more harm then cohesion, it is an opportunity to be deliberate about adopting rules that promote health for all. What you can expect in family therapy is that the goal of the work will be for the system’s optimal health. Your therapist will help you define a collective goal, and define each person’s part in achieving the desired outcome.
See Clinician’s Bio: Jo Ellen Maurer, LPC, Julie McDevitt, LCPC, Hillary Hause, LPC, Shelley Stears, LPC
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