Home should be an oasis in the midst of the crazy world we live in; but what if it’s not?
All too often family life can be just as challenging and complicated! And when there is conflict at home, even if it is just between two individuals, like a domino effect, it knocks down the whole stack and usually affects everyone under the roof.
The ‘nuclear family’ – mum, dad and children – is becoming less common in today’s society. Families can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Lots of kids; no kids. Two mums, or two dads. Rising costs may mean that adult children stay in the family home, and may bring their partner. Elderly members may move in and require additional care. Blended families. The list goes on.
Family therapy is tailored to suit the individual family unit, no matter what it may look like.
When is Family Therapy Needed?
If two or more members of the family – even the whole family unit – are struggling with a particular issue, or differences of opinion. Whether the disagreement relates to lifestyle, multicultural, or social factors, it can cause tension for all in the household. Increased friction can then rapidly escalate into anger, arguments, behavioural issues, breakdown of family relationships, and even violence.
In the counselling room with families, I often draw on Solution Focused Therapy as outlined by Herbert and Irene Goldenberg, in their book “Family Therapy: an overview”.
According to the Goldenbergs, each family is shaped by elements such as:
- race and ethnicity;
- social class;
- family life cycle stage;
- sexual orientation;
- religious affiliation;
- and the physical and mental health of its members.
Solution Focused Therapy is based on the philosophy that ‘there are exceptions to every problem and through examining these exceptions and having a clear vision of a preferred future, client and counsellor, together, can generate ides for solutions. Solution focused therapists are competency and future focused. They highlight and utilise client strengths to enable a more effective future.’
What to Expect in Family Therapy
When a family seeks out family therapy, they can expect to find that the therapist will:
- Be inclusive and considerate of the needs of each member of the family, and/or other key relationships (systems), in people’s lives.
- Recognise and build on peoples’ strengths and relational resources.
- Work in partnership ‘with’ families and others, not ‘on’ them.
- Be sensitive to diverse family forms and relationships, beliefs and cultures.
- Enable people to talk, together or individually, often about difficult or distressing issues, in ways that respect their experiences, invite engagement and support recovery.
- Diffuse any potential conflict as far as possible.
- Support each member of the family equally, and ensure everyone is getting their time to talk and express how they feel.
- Promote listening from all family members.
- Suggest any other forms of therapy – sometimes for an individual family member, which will help with resolving issues.
- Not tolerate any abusive, aggressive or threatening behaviour.
- Work towards a common goal – to resolve issues within the family as agreed at the start of therapy (although more issues may arise).
Families can be tried and tested in numerous ways. Whether your family is struggling to cope with grief and loss, constant conflict, or some other challenge, please make an appointment with a Brisbane Family Therapist today.
- H. Goldberg & I. Goldberg ‘Family Therapy An Overview’ Seventh Edition, 2008 Thomson Brooks/Cole, Belmont, USA.