What is Family Therapy?

JUNE, 1; 2020

Family therapy can teach family members how to handle adversity – before it begins. For instance, newly blended families that include children from previous marriages may benefit from family therapy. Why? Well, because family therapists can help them (all of the members of the newly blended family) learn how to respect one another and live peacefully together.

Because “family” is an important part of a person’s social support network, family therapy can be crucial for families dysfunction or chronic illness. Keep in mind that the better your family functions, the lower the stress level and the better the health for the entire family. In addition, adults, who grew up in dysfunctional families, could also benefit from individual therapy (instead of family or in addition to it) with a focus on family therapy concepts.

Another rarely spoken about aspect of family therapy is parenting counseling. Let’s be honest, parenting is hard work and it can involve a host of confusing and conflicting emotions, along with changes within the family. Many of these changes are positive and fulfilling, but some may be trying and difficult to manage. The great thing about a marriage and family therapist is he/she can help you talk through important parenting issues while learning the necessary skills to develop a healthy supportive relationship, as a parent and spouse.

What are the Goals of Marriage Counseling?

For many couples, the primary goal of marriage counseling is to save the marriage and stay together. For others, seeking therapy may be attributed to unresolved issues in the marriage. It’s important to understand that marriage counseling isn’t a quick fix. Rather, it takes dedication and effort to accomplish goals and repair the relationship.

A marriage counselor can help you in the following ways:

Infidelity & Adultery
If either you or your partner is unfaithful, it can seem like your relationship is doomed. However, if both you and your partner are committed to the relationship and willing to try to work it out, there is a chance your relationship can be repaired. The good thing about marriage counselors is they can help rebuild trust in your relationship. This relationship specialist can also help you understand why the infidelity or adultery occurred.

Poor Communication
It’s common for couples to have different ways of communicating. It’s also common for them to have poor communication skills, especially when it comes to voicing how they feel. You may assume your partner should know what you’re thinking or feeling – but he/she may not. Regardless, if your partner is not a mind reader, it can hurt your feelings when he/she does not react like you think he/she should.

Moreover, poor communication can cause one or both of you to feel abandoned, ignored, or dismissed. You may even mistake poor communication for a sign that your partner no longer loves you or is attracted to you.This happens because you assume your partner knows what you need and want, when he/she may have no clue – unless you tell him/her. So, when you remain silent about how you feel, it can cause a breakdown in communication and a disconnect between you and your spouse.

Substance Abuse & Addiction
Sometimes one or both partners have a substance abuse problem or full-blown addiction. Addiction comes in many forms – i.e. drugs, alcohol, gambling, pornography, overeating, and even shopping. This is a serious issue that must be addressed as soon as possible. But, first the abuser or addict has to admit there is a problem and he/she needs help. The good thing about couples counselors is that they can help you address these challenges individually and within your relationship.

Child-Rearing Issues
Raising children can be hard – really hard. There is no instruction manual on how to raise children or how to combat child-rearing problems when they arise. Most of us simply have to “wing it.” Still, children can put a strain on a relationship, especially when the child has behavioral problems, learning difficulties, a chronic illness or disability, and/or mental health issues. Unfortunately, however, when child-rearing issues pop up, the focus usually goes towards the child, leaving the relationship to flounder.

Passion & Romance
Every couple wants passion and romance in their relationship, especially if they have been together for a long time. So, it is common for couples to seek marriage counseling as a way to become closer to one another. A benefit of marriage counseling is that it can help you and your partner see the value in reconnecting with one another. The end result? More passion, romance, and a re-emergence of the “honeymoon stage.”

Conflicts & Resentment
It’s normal to have conflicts and even resentment from time-to-time in a relationship. You are human after all. A good thing about marriage therapists is that they are trained to teach you important conflict-resolution skills that you can use in your relationship. In other words, they teach you how to “fight fair.”

The truth is, when you are unable to or refuse to “fight fair,” it can cause deep-seated wounds that are hard to heal. And, when conflicts and resentment are left to simmer, it can do irreparable damage to your relationship.

This is especially true when you and/or your partner are unable to effectively communicate how you feel. As a result, anger, bitterness, and hostility fester, and problems deepen. If you don’t take steps to address issues in your relationship and reaffirm your commitment to resolving conflicts and making your marriage work, it will die.

5 Principles of Effective Relationship Counselling
• Changes Relationship View. With relationship counselling, the overall purpose can often be to change the way the two parties view the relationship. ...
• Reduces Friction by Modifying Dysfunctional Behaviour. ...
• Reduces Emotional Distress and Avoidance. ...
• Improves Communication. ...
• Promotes Positive Strength.

Top 10 At Home Couples Therapy Exercises

Couples at any stage of their relationship can benefit from counseling and therapy. While most people consider couples counseling as a last resort before a divorce or breakup, the fact is that happy, healthy couples can also learn valuable lessons from these sessions. If you’re trying to get closer to your partner, the techniques below may help you establish better communication and bonding in the future.

Here are the top 10 at-home couples therapy exercises:

1 – Make A List Of Fun Activities To Try Together
One of the best ways to bond with your significant other is by trying new experiences together. This could be as simple as visiting a museum in town, or it could be as complex as going on a cruise to a dream location. Create a list of fun activities to try as a couple, and make an effort to do at least one thing from the list every month. You can make a separate list for family activities, if you desire, but this should be a list just for you and your spouse. Spending some quality time together in an unfamiliar environment will help you connect in a whole new way.

2 – Resolve All Arguments Before You Go To Bed
By now, you’ve probably heard the phrase “don’t go to bed angry.” What may seem like a simple concept is actually a crucial part of at home couples therapy exercises. By going to bed angry, you leave issues unresolved, and you allow yourselves to dwell on the matter throughout the night. If you simply cannot come to terms before bed, make a note to contact your couples counselor in the morning so you can schedule an appointment as soon as possible. The longer you let the issue sit, the more bitter you will both become about it. Fix the problem quickly, and you can move forward to a better quality of life.

3 – Have An “Honesty Hour” At Least Once A Month
Honesty should always be a goal in a relationship, but sometime you may find yourself biting your tongue because you don’t want to upset your partner. That’s what the “honesty hour” is for. At least once a month, set aside a full hour of a day where you and your spouse talk about things that bother you – judgment free. You must both agree not to get offended or hold a grudge over anything that is said during this hour. This is set up to give both of you a chance to speak out and truly be heard. When your spouse is talking, LISTEN. He or she will hopefully give you the same courtesy when you have something to say.

4 – Set Aside A Special Date Night Every Week
Date nights are great for couples of all ages, no matter how long they have been together. It’s easy to forget about going out on a date when you live with someone and see him or her on a regular basis. Date nights are designed to get you out of the house and allow you to reconnect with your spouse in a fresh environment. If you cannot leave home, send the kids to spend the night with a family member and cook dinner for just the two of you. As long as you make the night special and just about you as a couple, you can fall in love with each other all over again.

5 – Spend Intimate Time Together As Often As Possible
Intimacy is a fundamental component of a thriving relationship. However, it’s important to note that “intimacy” is about more than just sex. It’s about connecting with a person on a deep emotional level, more so than you do with any other person in your life. Every night before you go to sleep, spend some time talking to your spouse in bed – without the TV on, without your cell phone in hand, and without any other distractions that could take you away from this moment. Cuddle, hold each other’s hands, or look into each other’s eyes and take a moment to appreciate the amazing person you’ve chosen to be with. It’s these quiet moments that keep long-lasting relationships going for decades at a time.

6 – Unplug Yourselves For A Night
It’s amazing how much of a distraction electronics can be. As part of your at-home couples therapy techniques, try spending a night completely unplugged from the rest of the world. No phones, no televisions, no computers, and no tablets. Just you and your spouse spending quality time together. You may play board games, give each other a massage, take a relaxing bath or do anything else that does not require electronics. This will allow both of you to focus 100% of your energy on the other person, and it will ultimately make you stronger as a unit.

7 – “Leave It ‘Til Sunday”
The “leave it ’til Sunday” technique can help you see which fights truly matter and which ones are trivial and unnecessary. Any time you have an argument that you can’t seem to come to terms about, put it to the side and talk about it on Sunday. If it is still an issue by then, you can re-open the argument and move forward. In many cases though, you will both forget about the problem by the end of the week. Anything that gets forgotten clearly isn’t a priority, like a discussion about chores or a television show.

8 – Identify And Eliminate Stress Triggers
Stress is not healthy for your mind or your body. In a relationship, stress often leads to major conflicts because one person is irritable, emotional, depressed, etc. One of your goals for couple counseling should be to identify sources of stress in your life and your spouse’s life, and then figure out ways to get rid of the stress for good. For instance, if one spouse is stressed about paying the bills for the household, the other person may decide to take on another job to provide additional support. Every stress trigger has a solution, even if it is not obvious at first. You can discuss all of this as a couple and come up with the best solutions for your situations.

9 – Use Trust Falls To Build Trust In Your Relationship
Trust falls are used in a number of team-building exercises. They are designed to help you trust the person you are with no matter what. To conduct a trust fall, all you have to do is stand behind your partner with your face toward his or her back. The person in front will fall backwards onto the person in back, and the person in back is supposed to catch the person in front. The person in front must blindly assume that their partner will in fact “have their back.” Once you can learn to trust someone with this basic responsibility, you can open yourself to trusting him or her in all areas of life.

10 – Write An Appreciation List For One Another
Spend some time writing down all the things you appreciate about your spouse. One of the main reasons why people feel like they are in a one-sided relationship is because they do not feel appreciated by their partners. By clearly expressing what you appreciate about your spouse, you can help him or her feel a sense of value in the relationship. You can build confidence about yourself along the way as you read about all the things you do to make your partner happy.