Why Is Family Therapy Important?
Family therapy is a form of therapy where most, if not all, members of the family are present. Why is this type of therapy effective? Well, let me tell you a story…
There was once this young girl, age 10, who was starting to have problems at school. We will call her Sadie. Her teacher was sending home notes stating that Sadie was acting out in class, not listening and starting arguments over petty things. Sadie’s parents were at a total loss. Why would their daughter be having these problems when in years past, Sadie was a perfect student?
Sadie’s parents had just sold their house due to financial issues and they all had moved into a smaller home that was more affordable. Sadie’s father was now working nights and Sadie’s mother had to return to work after being a stay-at-home mom.
After exhausting all disciplinary actions they could think of, Sadie’s parents bring her to therapy. They meet with a therapist who decides that meeting as a family would be a better course of action. Sadie’s parents are confused by this because they don’t see how they’re part of the problem,but they agree anyways. After all, they’re feeling overwhelmed and disheartened. At this point, they would try anything in order to help their daughter. During therapy, Sadie’s parents learn that Sadie feels like she’s no longer special to her parents and that they always worry about money. Sadie states that they used to do things as a family, but now that Dad works nights, they never do anything and Mom is always tired after working all day.
The family therapist suggests that Sadie’s parents start incorporating family time into their weekly schedule as well[spacer height=”5px”] as 30 minutes of play time with each of Sadie’s parents. After several weeks of this, Sadie’s parents begin to notice a significant decrease in Sadie’s bad behavior.
So what was it about family therapy that worked so well for this family? Well, not only did the therapist suggest a solution that involved all family members, but family therapy was also an activity that all family members were able to take part in. All too often, we get so bogged down in paying attention to the specific behavior we want to have changed that we fail to see the big picture. For example, Sadie’s behavior problem at school wasn’t the real problem. The real problem was the fact that Sadie no longer felt important to her parents, but at 10 years old, she didn’t realize this and therefore, she couldn’t vocalize that to her parents.
Family counseling can be the most effective form of intervention. The family is a singular unit. What one person does in the unit affects every other person in the unit. If Dad loses his job, the whole unit must respond to this loss. If Mom struggles with Depression, the whole unit responds to this struggle. If the child has problems in school, the whole unit must deal with these problems. Have you noticed that your relationship with your spouse becomes strained when your child is having behavior problems? Have you noticed how your child’s behavior tends to get worse when you[spacer height=”5px”] and your spouse are having difficulty getting along? As one whole unit, you all are affected by each other, whether you realize it or not.
Don’t wait until the problems are overwhelming before you bring your family in for counseling. Make family counseling a part of your family routine. So many families live divided lives at home: the child is in his or her room playing on their phone, Dad is watching T.V. in his man cave and Mom is watching her recorded shows in the bedroom. How nice would it be to spend at least one hour a week in a room together, talking about important issues and coming up with solutions that make the family unit run more smoothly? Your problems don’t have to be catastrophic before you seek help. Maybe you’re all just struggling to reconnect. Maybe you’re struggling with small communication issues. There’s no problem too big or too small that family counseling can’t help!
Did Sadie’s parents need a therapist to tell them to have family time or play time with Sadie? Not really. However, they were so focused on the fact that Sadie’s behavior at school was the problem that they would have probably struggled to realize what the true issue was. Sometimes, having a fresh perspective from someone on the outside looking in can make all the difference. That is what a therapist can offer you and your family!
Lee Counseling Services is here to help you and your family through the ups and downs life throws at you. Give us a call today for a FREE 20-minute consultation or to schedule a family therapy appointment.