Telehealth sessions in Maryland and DC

Family Therapy

Has Your Family’s Emotional Foundation Been Shaken Or Fractured?

Is your family stuck in never-ending loops of disagreements, frustrations, and resentments? Perhaps emotional disconnection, misunderstandings, and taking sides have caused the relationships between members to suffer. Failure to find common ground and resolution may be resulting in feelings of despair, irritation, and sadness.

The stage your family is in could be exacerbating already strained relationships. If you have teenagers, the changing dynamics within your household may create turmoil. Not only are they asserting their independence and finding their own voice, but as their parent, you might be experiencing an identity crisis now that they’re no longer relying on you as much.

Or maybe your family is dealing with a member with a prolonged illness or nearing the end of life. The emotional toll of coping with different aspects of loss, managing reversed roles in caretaking, and navigating that member’s dwindling independence could be creating tension and stress. Sadly, these dynamics could be the backdrop for more arguments and tension than your family has ever encountered before.

Life Events May Be Contributing To The Discord

Amid these stages, your family may have been impacted by other life transitions that are putting further stress on your relationships. Perhaps divorce, remarriage, relocation, illness, job loss, financial challenges, substance abuse, or a mental health crisis has destabilized your family. Even when only one member is directly affected by events, the rest of you are ultimately impacted by its ripple effect within the family. And regardless of what the disruption is, you may notice that a  division has formed between family members that leave you at odds with each other. You may find yourself wishing for a “normal” family where everyone can feel comfortable, loved, and respected without arguments and resentment. Fortunately, therapy offers your family support and guidance to come back together and rediscover emotional connection.

Today’s Families Experience Numerous Social Challenges

Now more than ever, families are under stress for multiple reasons. Whether it’s the dynamics at play in a blended, interracial, or multicultural family, the external pressures we’re subjected to can threaten our sense of belonging in a nurturing and safe family environment and cause emotional pain, anger, and frustration.
For example, blended families with school-age children face unique challenges. As we struggle to acclimate to the new relationship dynamics going on within the household, parents often feel societal pressure to push our children too hard in school. This added stress can result in them rebelling or becoming overwhelmed. Further, for interracial and multicultural families, the rampant oppression and discrimination we experience can negatively impact us in ways that can be hard to know how to handle, especially with our children. Having a frank conversation with them about race can be difficult to navigate. And when children and parents don’t share the same culture, this dynamic may create tension and discord. Oftentimes, as parents we want our children to preserve our culture of origin and fulfill our hopes and dreams indirectly. These expectations can leave kids feeling unnecessarily pressured and conflicted about which culture they truly belong to.

Families Often Resist Seeking Outside Help

Without an objective observer’s perspective, it may be impossible for us to pinpoint our emotional blind spots and identify healthy ways of dealing with conflict. However, the pressure we internalize to single-handedly navigate the complex emotional maze of family relationships without asking for help leads to more emotional suffering and shame. Without intervention, these dysfunctional and painful family dynamics can become our new normal. Fortunately, family therapy offers a lifeline for those who are navigating transitions, multicultural issues, ethnicity, and blended family growing pains. Working with a counselor can help your family recognize unhealthy communication patterns and develop clarity about what it takes to have a healthy family constellation.

Therapy Can Help Build A Safe Family Space Where All Members Feel Supported

When a family begins counseling together, often they initially single out a member as the one experiencing more difficulties than anyone else. It’s only after they begin working with their therapist they begin to notice the underlying patterns within the family dynamics that are contributing to these difficulties. Becoming aware of your family’s interactions from a different perspective can help you gain objective insight which, in turn, will be invaluable in improving the way you communicate and find common ground. The main goal of family therapy is to help its members understand the root of their problems and develop effective tools to build and maintain a safe family space where everyone can feel seen, appreciated, loved, and cared for. This safe family space will be fostered by nurturing connection, creating healthy boundaries, and meeting the needs of each individual as well as the family as a whole.

What To Expect In Sessions

All family members who are willing to be part of the therapy process will participate initially. However, in some cases, your therapist might ask to meet with only the parents first. This way, they can better understand any marital conflicts or disagreements about parenting strategies that might be inappropriate to discuss with the kids present. Thereafter, sessions will be held with family members who need the most support. In facilitated conversations with the family, your therapist will help you notice unhelpful patterns of interaction and, perhaps, emotions that have been internalized or unexpressed. With their guidance, you will be able to talk about difficult subjects together and find different ways to discuss these topics which result in enhanced understanding, compassion, and empathy. As communication improves, you will each feel more connected to each other while your needs are expressed and met.

The Modalities We Use

Utilizing Internal Family Systems (IFS), your family therapist will carefully observe how each member’s behavior is shaped by a complex web of relations—within the family, community, and larger society. Even when one individual may be dealing with unique issues, such as depression or anxiety, IFS views their experience within the larger relational context in which their symptoms make more sense.
By examining the different “parts” that make up each family member’s personality—as well as both their healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms—the family’s communication dynamics will be evaluated as a whole. Once the dysfunctional dynamics are identified, you will be guided to better methods of communication. When a family holds space for each other and allows themselves to be vulnerable together in therapy, it can be healing and create a new level of understanding. This allows you to feel emotionally connected, understood, and accepted unconditionally by each other. As a result, your communication patterns will change in ways that bring you together and closer to each other while each of you maintains your unique individuality.

Connect, Laugh, And Feel Loved And Cared For Again

Even when life gets hard and unexpected, you can still say and feel “I love you” to one another. To schedule a free consultation and learn more about family therapy, please contact us.

But You Still May Wonder If Therapy Is Right For Your Family …

The online therapy we offer should make it easier to find time for counseling instead of trying to get every family member in the therapist’s office at the same time. As long as the family members are physically present in the same state where the therapist is credentialed to practice, they can attend from different locations. In fact, recent studies show online family therapy is as effective as having to meet in person.

Oftentimes, not all family members are ready or willing to enter therapy. Their reluctance might be a symptom of the dysfunctionality within the family combined with a lack of trust that anything will change in the long term. However, a healthy change in family dynamics can still happen even if not all members agree to work with a counselor. When one part of the system changes, the larger system can improve. So, we encourage all members who are ready to make healthy changes to attend family therapy.

It makes sense that you feel so resigned and discouraged. After all, how can a therapist who doesn’t know your family help you? But you might be surprised by how powerful and healing the safe space of therapy can be. The controlled environment of counseling allows the different parts of each family member to come forward. Suddenly, you’re able to say things you’ve never expressed to each other before and experience your relationships differently. Although it can sometimes be hard work, family therapy does work.

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