For most people, the relationships they have with their family members are among the most important relationships they have. However, like all relationships, familial relationships can take some work. Trying to solve interpersonal problems on your own can lead to more conflict, but a family therapist can help you and your family members reach an understanding. Here are some tips you can use to succeed at family therapy:
1. Find a therapist who specializes in family therapy.
There are many types of therapists available, all of them specializing in different areas of psychotherapy. There are marriage counselors who specialize in helping couples deal with relationships problems and family therapists who deal with a broader range of issues that can come up during family life. Your therapy will be most effective if you find the right kind of therapist. Once you narrow down your search, spend some time talking to each potential therapist on the phone. You should try to find a therapist that you would feel comfortable with in a therapeutic setting.
2. Get your family members on board.
Family therapy is most effective when your entire family participates. However, if some people don't want to participate, you shouldn't force them. Like all forms of therapy, family therapy is only effective if the people participating are open to the process. Therapy requires open, honest communication, which can only happen when everyone feels safe enough to share; this type of environment is unlikely to come about if someone doesn't want to be there.
3. Set a goal for your therapy.
Unlike some types of individual therapy meant to manage certain mental health conditions, which can be ongoing, family therapy isn't meant to be indefinite. This type of therapy works best when used as a tool to solve specific problems. When you visit your therapist, you may spend your first appointment discussing the reason you're in therapy. Based on your problems and desired outcomes, your therapist can help your family find a goal. Based on your goal, your therapist will help you set a schedule and a projected end date to your therapy.
4. Be open to individual therapy.
If you or a family member has additional mental health issues, you may benefit from individual therapy to treat those concerns. Individual therapy should be offered by a different therapist, since unfair bias may result from one family member receiving personal therapy from the family therapist. However, your family therapist can refer you to someone suitable for additional treatment.