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Family Therapy & Counselling

The Importance of Family Therapy

Through the course of ordinary family life, there are normal developmental challenges for families to navigate. And when one member is going through a difficult time, those experiences touch every other family member as well—in both positive and negative ways. In some cases, one person’s problems may be impacting other family members. In others, actions by the family may be contributing to an individual’s difficulties.

Despite this self-evident family dynamic, we still have a cultural belief that families are the experts in their own lives. Sometimes, though, a problem gains too much power, or is so painful, that it breaks down a family’s problem-solving skills, and saps family members’ resiliency. That’s when it’s time to seek help, so the entire family can navigate these challenges. Families are often referred for therapy when dealing with difficulties such as: adjustment to illness in the family, mood and anxiety disorders, school refusal, parent-child (or teen) conflict, problematic family dynamics, emotional regulation difficulties, behaviour challenges and somatization concerns.

Family Therapy

The Value of Family Therapy

Family Therapy and Counselling

Family therapy offers an opportunity to look at the challenges of the group, without pointing a finger at any particular person as the problem. This emphasizes the healthier idea that everyone owns the difficulty, and everyone must share in the solution. This kind of approach allows the family and therapist to view the difficulties from different perspectives, and to reflect on how the family has navigated challenges in the past. 

In family therapy, “family” is actually defined as a group of people who care about each other, and self-identify as a family. This could include parents, siblings, grandparents and even close friends or other caregivers who are close to the group. Sessions underline the idea that the family is key to the individual’s recovery. Throughout the process, family therapy strongly emphasizes the importance of communication and understanding and working on challenges together. In therapy, families explore and identify positive patterns and behaviours, and learn to recognize behaviours which may contribute to distress.

While every situation is unique, families tend to see positive outcomes from, on average, eight therapy sessions, spread over two- or three-week intervals. Family therapy sessions can result in better communication, increased empathy and connection between family members and, ultimately, reduction of family conflict. When each family member feels supported and works within their strengths, the result will be positive changes in all of their relationships. There is, however, no single path when it comes to treating families. So it’s important to talk to your therapist, to decide which of the many therapeutic approaches is right for you and your family.

Family Therapy in Toronto
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It is now clear to me that the family is a microcosm of the world. To understand the world, we can study the family: issues such as power, intimacy, autonomy, trust, and communication skills are vital parts underlying how we live in the world. To change the world is to change the family

- Virginia Satir

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