When young children see a counselor, they are accompanied by at least one parent. As teens, parents again nearly always come in for at least the first appointment. Parents are a part of the family system. The information they provide and the opinions they carry are a central part of any assessment and ongoing treatment. However, if you are married, should your spouse be involved? How about your children? Today, let’s talk about some of the advantages of therapy with families!
Benefits of Therapy with Families
Therapy can be both expensive and time consuming. You have questions that need and deserve the best answers available. The input of other family members may add valuable insights that otherwise may take months, even years to uncover. Your therapist may be very good but, just like any other “master investigator”, their assessments are only as good as the depth of information they are provided.
When you enter therapy, you have one point of view to offer. Let’s be honest, in your day-to-day life, many people are too nice (or too afraid!) to tell you the truth. They tell you what they think you are willing to hear. They don’t want to “rock the boat”. Going alone may keep valuable clues from you and your therapist. You and may be looking for ways to provide your family more money when, in truth, they would rather make changes that would allow you to be home more. You may be working on your parenting, while your spouse is disenchanted with the marriage. You may be working on issues of your childhood, unaware of the issues your children are facing.
Goals of Therapy with Families
Eventually, you and your therapist will create goals to make positive changes in your life. Many will include your family, particularly your spouse. Each goal will likely follow a SMART format. This stands for a goal being Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-oriented. You want more than simple recovery from a life situation, you want to create lasting change and an outstanding life. As you might imagine, including input to help with the formation and implementation of your goals will be more instructive for everyone, giving you deeper and more sustaining results.
Including family members of your choice would also help ongoing monitoring of success. Often, a goal is set to uncover resistances that aren’t obvious at first. A plan to “eat and train” for an event that inspires you may uncover relationship issues, or long forgotten issue from the past. You and your therapist may not pick up on this, but with the help of your family, other dimensions of success become available.
Family Therapy Options
Certainly, there are times when you need to go at it alone. As with most therapy, you are the one in charge of who is involved and the flow of information you share. Often, you and your therapist may decide to have someone “come in for a few sessions with you” to clarify or work through an opportunity. You may also decide to first take some time to develop trust in your relationship with the therapist and the type of therapy you choose. One more consideration, your therapist may suggest another therapist to work on family issues. This can protect the privacy of your relationship with your therapist while adding the expertise of another.
Call to Action
That’s enough for now! Let me know if you have questions or if you simply want to leave a comment. In any case, consider one of our courses if this seems helpful. Let’s heal, let’s grow and let’s master this life of ours!