Family Therapy -- Is It Worth Trying?
I must confess, family therapy is something our family has never tried. My brother underwent intensive cognitive behavioral therapy when he was first diagnosed with anxiety and depression, and the facilitator recommended a family therapy session. My parents declined -- I guess the idea of everyone sitting down and talking about their feelings to a stranger didn't feel right at the time.
Individual Therapy Impacts the Family Dynamic
I have tried a lot of different therapies as an individual -- cognitive behavioral therapy, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy and others. Although I did not go into these experiences with set goals or expectations, I found that every time I put effort into self-exploration my relationship with my brother was impacted in a positive way.
Reflecting on the role I take within my family and the experiences that have shaped this has been powerful. It has allowed me to step back and make conscious decisions about how I want to relate to each of my family members. It has enabled me both to set boundaries and to remove them where appropriate. I can only imagine that sharing these "aha moments" as a family would have an even more profound effect on our group dynamic.
Building the Foundations for Family Therapy
Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, I would say that our family is in a very positive place right now. Our communication is regular and positive, and my brother's mental illness symptoms are extremely well controlled. I think that I would like to broach the subject of attending family therapy once the restrictions are lifted.
I have learned through my personal experiences that you don't need to be in the midst of a crisis to attend therapy. Proactively learning strategies to deal with anxiety or to change negative behavioral patterns can be far more efficient when in a state of relative calm. I feel that the stable communication base we have built due to being apart during the pandemic restrictions could be a solid foundation for doing some exploratory family therapy work in the near future.
I would also like to think that my parents have come a long way in terms of their openness to talk about difficult emotions -- and have let go of a lot of the preconceived ideas they once held about therapy. For this, we have my brother to thank.
Have you attended family therapy in the past? If so, I would be extremely interested to hear about your experiences -- good or bad. Please share them in the comments.
Spendlove, N. (2020, May 11). Family Therapy -- Is It Worth Trying?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/mentalillnessinthefamily/2020/5/family-therapy-is-it-worth-trying
Author: Nicola Spendlove
I always appreciate coming across discussion posts like these, I find them to be so helpful for people. I love your point about not needing to be in crisis to attend therapy and the benefit of learning proactive solutions -- both are so true and excellent points! I think, like so many things, the question of whether or not to consider family therapy depends on many things but I do find it to be an incredibly helpful tool for many, and can often just create a safe space and container for some communication to be had.
Thanks for your reply, Lizanne! I like your point about therapy creating a safe space for communication to happen -- I think setting aside time specifically to speak openly can be a very powerful intervention in and of itself. I will report back if we do decide to try it!