Families Under Strain Should Consider Consulting A Family Therapist

We are all individuals with our own quirks, habits, and triggers. We have our own ways of experiencing and dealing with situations. Yet, we never exist on our own. While this social support structure is usually a positive thing, it can, at times, lead to challenges and even conflict. This is especially true when it comes to those we are close to and with whom we spend the most time. Our families (whether it be blood relatives, adopted, fostered, or chosen) are usually these people. What is meant to be a close-knit and supportive unit can sometimes, due to circumstances, become strained and challenging. It is in an instance like this where a family therapist can help people develop or restore healthy, functional interaction or ways to cope with challenges.

While this is certainly not an exhaustive list, here are a few challenges or circumstances that could benefit from sessions with a family therapist:

  • Dealing with the effect of illness, including mental illness such as depression.
  • Parent-child conflict or problems between siblings.
  • Communication issues.
  • Marital problems, parent conflict, and the effect of divorce.
  • The effects of substance abuse or addiction.
  • Children struggling with school, eating disorders, etc.
  • The trauma that goes with losing a family member.
  • Adjusting to a new member in the household (e.g. a new sibling, an adopted child, or a grandparent that moves in).
  • Dealing with trauma, such as that caused by a natural disaster, an accident, or incarceration.
  • Major changes, such as moving house or city, retrenchment, or changing schools.

A professional therapist will first explore the family dynamics to determine:

  • The level of communication and the ability to express emotions in an informative and constructive way;
  • Their ability to solve problems and overcome challenges;
  • Behaviour patterns of individuals that might contribute to conflict, either actively or incidentally; and
  • Strengths and weaknesses and how these can be utilised or worked on to strengthen relationships.

With this insight, a good therapist can help a willing family to:

  • Improve communication;
  • Set and respect healthy boundaries;
  • Reduce conflict between members;
  • Work on problem-solving and issue-resolution; and
  • Develop understanding and empathy for each other.

Too often therapy is seen as a last resort or something that only other people do. The stigma around it is totally unnecessary. In fact, a family therapist can help people to avoid lasting trauma and to strengthen bonds and support in order to function as a unit.

If you think you and your family could benefit from seeing a therapist, feel free to contact Dr Tienie Maritz in Pretoria.

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