While therapy and counseling are often considered to be solitary activities, there are also options for collective counseling that many people and groups find helpful, and family counseling is one of those forms of mental health care. Although you may feel that your family doesn’t need counseling, or that the issues at hand would be best dealt with on an individual level, everyone can benefit from some form of counseling if they’re open to it. Even if certain members of your family are in individual counseling already, trying out family counseling along with that is a great way to support them and function better as a unit.
Of course, you should always discuss the best treatment options for you and your family with the mental healthcare providers you trust, but if they suggest that family therapy might be a good choice for you, why not give it a try? While family therapy isn’t the solution to every issue, and it isn’t a replacement for necessary individual counseling or mental health medication, it can have many fantastic benefits. If you’re on the fence as to whether your family should try out counseling, here are a few benefits of family therapy you may want to consider.
When it comes to family issues, disagreements, fights or stories that may cause trauma, emotions can often run high. Family dynamics in these situations can often allow certain family members to overpower others, shame them, blame them or even come to the issue with conflicting accounts of what happens.
When everyone goes to counseling together, the therapist or mental healthcare professional is a neutral party that can see the situation objectively. This allows for productive discussions and promotes advocacy for those who don’t traditionally hold power within the family dynamic. For example, if the parents are behaving in a way that is causing harm or discomfort for the children, having a mediating party often can guide the situation in a much more positive direction.
2. Effective Communication
Just like counseling can promote communication skills on an individual level, it can also promote communication within the family dynamic. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment in stressful or upsetting situations, it can be difficult to communicate your emotions effectively or listen to others the way they deserve to be listened to. Therapy allows both a space and techniques for sharing thoughts and feelings, and fully listening to one another.
3. Collective Coping Skills
Similar to how counseling can offer communication skills both in an individual and family setting, coping skills are another example of the ways that family therapists can offer techniques to deal with household issues.
Often, families seek counseling services due to interpersonal issues within the household such as arguments, but family counseling can also be highly beneficial for those experiencing a collective experience of stress, trauma or grief. In these circumstances, learning collective coping skills can be especially helpful in healing and connecting together.
4. Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries are important for everyone, even within families. However, setting boundaries with those you love and live with can be especially difficult, whether you’re the parent, child or another member of the family you’re a part of. While you can set boundaries on your own, counseling often provides a framework for setting healthy boundaries with one another to ensure that everyone has their needs met in your household. This way, nobody gets left behind or feels forgotten.
5. Improving Problem Solving Abilities
While there is some slight disagreement around this idea, many mental health professionals firmly believe that counselors and therapists — in most situations — should be working themselves out of a job. With family counseling, this tends to be the case. No matter how effective and beneficial each session may be, your time in family counseling will eventually come to an end due to improved boundaries, communication skills and overall function in your household. Overall, very good things.
That being said, family therapy aims to provide families with better problem solving abilities, so you can address ongoing issues in easier and healthier ways. That way, not every issue needs to be addressed in a therapy setting, and you can work towards independence and autonomous solutions that work in your family.
The Benefits of Family Therapy and Counseling
Each family is unique and has different needs, which is exactly why family therapy and counseling can help so many households find individual solutions to whatever issues they’re dealing with. Whether the issues are interpersonal or collective, setting boundaries and practicing healthy communication skills can usher you towards better problem solving skills all around. Remember, you should always talk to your mental healthcare provider about what solutions they’d recommend for your family — if family therapy is one of them, you may want to give it a try.