By Kathryn Millán, MA, LPC/MHSP
If your family has undergone a period of high stress and conflict, or if you simply want to grow stronger together and make a plan for a better future, family therapy may offer a new beginning.
Experts estimated that in 2015, 43.4 million adults in the US — nearly one in five — experienced mental illness.1 On top of that, approximately 20.1 million Americans aged 12 and older struggled with a substance use disorder in 2016, and approximately 8.2 million adults aged 18 and older experienced both substance use and mental health disorders at the same time.2
Chances are, you or someone you love has struggled with one of these conditions. Family therapy offers an encouraging, safe space to learn new coping skills, build broken relationships and help each other maintain ongoing wellness.
What Happens in Family Therapy?
There are many misconceptions about family therapy. Often family members hesitate to enter this type of counseling because they fear being singled out, diagnosed or judged. Sometimes family conflict is so unpleasant that the idea of sitting in a room together feels impossible. Don’t give up — family therapy is designed to encourage and strengthen all family members, and it does not single out any one person or place blame.
Family therapy is often a short-term process. It’s designed to focus on solutions your whole family can put into practice. Because some coordinating may be in order, your family therapist may first work with one or two family members to determine the best times for scheduling and the overall goals for therapy. Each family situation is different, so your therapist will develop a treatment plan that fits the needs and availability of as many family members as possible.3
During your first meeting with a family therapist, you may be asked to describe your family issues and then determine goals together. You may all work together to determine your family strengths and weaknesses so that you can develop a plan of action. This is a good time to ask your counselor about his or her approach to working with families and get a good idea if this counselor will be a good fit for your family.
Some common goals of family therapy include:
- Coping with and helping a loved one who struggles with mental illness or addiction
- Gaining new communication skills to reduce conflict and enjoy family life again
- Healing from past trauma, loss or difficulties
- Strengthening family bonds, building a better marriage, or learning how to co-parent effectively
- Finding resolution on conflicts before a life event, such as the birth of a child, a wedding or a big move
- Becoming a sober-supportive family to help enhance long-term wellness after substance use problems
Therapy for Your Family
Hartgrove Behavioral Health System has offered healing support for families for nearly 50 years. Hartgrove’s dedicated team of professionals is known for helping the community through dedicated therapy options, community outreach and individualized treatment. Find out how our experience can help your family, too. Call us today to schedule a free, confidential assessment. Your phone call can be the first step toward a closer family.
1 “Any Mental Illness (AMI) Among U.S. Adults.” National Institute of Mental Health, 2015, Accessed December 7, 2017.
2 Ahrnsbrak, Rebecca, et al. Key Substance Use and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, September 2017.
3 “Family Therapy.” Mayo Clinic, September 20, 2017.
4 Center for Substance Abuse Treatment. Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004.Share