Leo Tolstoy may have claimed that all happy families are alike and that all unhappy families are unalike, but in speaking this what did he really mean?
On the surface, it can be easy to understand where the famous author was coming from. After all, it’s easy to identify the common characteristics that a happy family might share —stability, clear communication, and the ability to have fun together. However, unfortunately, the characteristics that could unite a dysfunctional family seem to be further reaching, from substance abuse problems to untreated mental health ailments to beyond.
The good news is that a family’s functionality is not set in stone. If you find that your family dynamic is unhappy or leaves room for improvement, there are certain steps that you can take to make your homelife a more nurturing environment for everybody involved. One of the most effective steps is family counseling.
In this article, we will go over the most common considerations that somebody can have when they are deciding whether or not family counseling is the right choice for their household, as well as the ways in which you can go about finding the right family therapist.
Five Signs Therapy Might Be Right For You
Dealing with family stress can not only be embarrassing, but it can be quite isolating as well. However, if you are dealing with a tumultuous personal life, you are not alone, as for many of us it’s a fact of life.
If you are wondering whether or not therapy is a good fit for your family, here are some signs that it might be a good choice for you:
1. Your Family Dynamic is Highly Emotional
As human beings, we all have our highs and lows — and there is nobody who knows our ins and outs more intimately than our family members. While having emotional moments is part of fostering a healthy living situation, if you find that the mood is constantly tense within your household to the point where it is inhibiting anyone’s ability to function, it may be time to involve professional help.
Examples of being highly emotional can include family members being afraid to talk to one another, family members using strong words and expletives with one another, family members being disrespectful, and family members being afraid to speak to one another.
2. Your Family Has Gone Through a Traumatic Experience Together
Unfortunately, sometimes families go through experiences that come with repercussions that prove to be too much for them to handle on their own. Feeling this way is not a sign of weakness — on the contrary, going through trauma requires an amazing degree of strength on behalf of every family member.
It is common for families to seek out professional counselling after experiencing a trauma, no matter the scale. Even if you feel as if your family dynamic is healthy, working through trauma with counselling services can help prevent dysfunction that may present itself in the future if left undiscovered.
3. You or Another Family Member Expressed Hopelessness
Life is hard. From time to time, it’s not unusual for anyone to experience feelings of hopelessness. However, if you or another family member is expressing a constant feeling of hopelessness it can be a sign that something is awry.
Unlike periodic low moods or brief feelings of sadness, depression is a clinical diagnosis that refers to a serious and prolonged period of low mental health. It is very difficult for individuals who are suffering from depression to feel better on their own, and in most cases professional intervention can be very beneficial.
Related: Does My Family Need Family Rules?
If one family member is suffering from depression or any other mood disorder, it can have an affect on the entire household. Because of this, it may be worthwhile for the entire family to go through counselling as a way to encourage group healing.
4. Your Family is Experiencing Addiction
Addiction is a common, albeit consequential, phenomenon that can cause a variety of issues for families. If somebody in your family is struggling with addiction, the actions of that individual affect the entire family. The consequences are especially apparent in children, who may themselves turn to substance abuse as a response of their family environment. Children may also feel neglected and may act out in school as a result. Which brings us to our next point.
5. Your Children Have Shown Major Changes in Their Behavior
Sometimes, it isn’t easy for children to express their emotions. Therefore, just because your child is keeping relatively silent, it doesn’t mean that everything is necessarily okay for them. Oftentimes, if a child is not feeling themselves, they will not be forthcoming with this information to their parents and instead will internalize it. Sometimes this can result in a behavioral change, such as suddenly getting in trouble often in school or choosing to spend a lot of time alone.
How to Find the Right Family Therapist
Once you have determined that a family therapist may be the right choice for you, it’s time to start looking for a professional who will be a right fit for you. While there are many capable therapists who practice, many can have different specialties so it is important to do your research so you can find a right fit for you. Here are some things to keep in mind when searching for a family therapist.
If you have a family doctor, she or he is the gatekeeper of your overall health, whether it be physical or mental. Your doctor may be able to put you in touch with the proper mental health professional for your particular needs.
Is There an Option Within Your Community?
Sometimes, family members may be part of a larger community, whether it is related to a church, a cultural group, or an association of any kind. Through community contacts, you may find that you can find a therapist that aligns with your views and can be best suited to help your family.
Which Method of Therapy are They Trained In?
Not all therapy is identical, and there are a number of different methods practiced by individuals in practice. Before you decide on a therapist for you and your family, it may be worthwhile to put some research in to determine what approach to therapy resonates the most to you.
The Bottom Line
If your family is struggling, it is not a sign of failure as ups and downs are a part of life. The fact that you are looking to reinforce a positive environment within your home is a sign of strength — and one that your family will thank you for for generations.