5 Things You Can Do to Have a Stronger Family (You Can Do It!)
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This family that we acquire when we are born influences every aspect of our lives, from our first moments to our last.
Our family affects who we are and who we become, for better and for worse. We learn our vocabulary, our habits, our customs and rituals, and how to view and observe the world around us. We also learn how to love and how to interact with others from these first important relationships. If we are born into a healthy family with healthy relationships, we are likely to learn how to maintain healthy relationships.
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If we are born into a dysfunctional family that struggles to connect, we may also struggle to connect with others. Nearly all families deal with some sort of dysfunction at one time or another, yet most families retain or regain a sense of wholeness and happiness. Family therapy offers families a way to do this—a way to develop or maintain a healthy, functional family. Family therapy or family counseling is a form of treatment that is designed to address specific issues affecting the health and functioning of a family.
As Dr. The assumption of this type of therapy is that problems cannot be successfully addressed or solved without understanding the dynamics of the group. Family therapy can employ techniques and exercises from cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy, or other types of individual therapy. Like with other types of treatment, the techniques employed will depend on the specific problems the client or clients present with. Behavioral or emotional problems in children are common reasons to visit a family therapist.
As the different types of therapy described above show, a family therapist may be called upon to take on many different roles. These many roles require a family therapist to undergo a great deal of training, formal education, and testing to ensure that the therapist is up to the task. This has nothing to do with good or bad, guilt or innocence, right or wrong. It is the simple acknowledgement that you make a difference.
While therapists may have different methods and preferred treatment techniques, they must all have at least a minimum level of experience with the treatment of:. Next, the therapist will most likely need to complete two years of supervised work after graduation, for a total of 2, to 4, hours of clinical experience. When these requirements are met, the therapist will also likely need to pass a state-sanctioned exam, as well as complete annual continuing education courses.
To learn more about how marriage and family therapists are trained and how they practice their craft, the following websites are great resources:. In a nutshell, the goal of family therapy is to work together to heal any mental, emotional, or psychological problems tearing your family apart Lee, To guide a family towards a healthy life, family therapists aim to aid people in improving communication , solving family problems, understanding and handling family situations, and creating a better functioning home environment Family Therapy, A.
The goals of family therapy depend on the presenting problems of the clients. For example, goals may differ based on the following scenarios:. We tend to think of therapy and psychotherapy as two different forms of treatment, but in fact, they are the same thing. Generally, counseling is applied in situations where an individual or, in the case of family counseling, a family engages the services of a counselor or other mental health professional to help with a specific problem or set of problems. A family who is struggling with a situation that brings added stress , such as the death of a family member, addiction, or dire financial straits, may benefit from counseling to help them through their struggles to emerge on the other side as a stronger and more cohesive unit.
If a family is struggling with more chronic mental or behavioral problems, such as a father dealing with schizophrenia, a mother fighting depression, or a child who has been abused, psychotherapy is likely the better choice. This type of therapy is appropriate for families with problems such as these because a family therapist has a different perspective on treatment than an individual therapist.
To solve a problem in a system, you need to consider all parts of the system. Fixing the alternator in a car will not fix the problem if it also has flat tires, a faulty transmission, and a plugged exhaust pipe. Issues within a family are similar to the car with several problems. A family therapist believes that problems must be addressed at the level of the whole family rather than on an individual level Schwartz, This more holistic approach to treating problems within a family has proven to be extremely effective in many cases.
In family therapy, families can work on their problems with the guidance of a mental health professional in a safe and controlled environment.
Family therapy enhances the skills required for healthy family functioning, including communication, conflict resolution, and problem-solving. Improving these skills also increases the potential for success in overcoming and addressing family problems. In family therapy, the focus is on providing all family members with the tools they need to facilitate healing Teen Treatment Center, If family therapy sounds like a treatment that would benefit you and your loved ones, the best course of action is to find a licensed professional with whom you can build a good working relationship and address the problems your family is facing.
The exercises and techniques below are meant to be used within the context of a therapeutic working relationship, but some also have applications for those who wish to explore the possibilities of family therapy before committing to long-term treatment with a therapist. If you are a therapist or other mental health professional, you may find these exercises to be useful additions to your therapy toolbox.
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This exercise can be used in individual, couples, or family therapy, and is intended to help the client s explore the type of future they would like to build. We all struggle at times, but sometimes the struggle is greater because we simply do not know what our goals actually are. The Miracle Question is an excellent way to help the client or clients probe their own dreams and desires.
When used in the context of couples or family therapy, it can aid clients in understanding what their significant other or family member needs in order to be happy with their relationship.
Exercise with a friend
When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice that would tell you life had suddenly gotten better? While the client may give an answer that is an impossibility in their waking life, their answer can still be useful. This question aids both the client and the therapist—the client in envisioning a positive future in which their problems are addressed or mitigated, and the therapist in learning how they can best help their client in their sessions.
You can learn more about this exercise at this link. Distribute seven pieces to each family member, and instruct them to sort their candy by color and refraining from eating it just yet!
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Next, ask a family member to pick a color and share how many they have. For however many candies of this color they have, instruct them to give the same number of responses to the following prompts based on the color:. When the first family member has given their answers, tell them to choose the next family member to answer the same prompt based on the number of candies that person has.
When all family members have responded to these prompts, initiate a discussion based on the answers provided by the family. The following questions can facilitate discussion:. Given the high sugar content in this exercise, you can see that this is a great game to play with young children! This is a simple exercise, requiring only a ball and a pen or marker to write with.
It is frequently used with children and teenagers in many contexts, as it takes the pressure off of talking about emotions for those who may be uncomfortable sharing their feelings.
A beach ball is a perfect ball for this activity—big enough to write several emotions on and easy to throw back and forth in a circle. Gather your family into a circle and begin to toss the ball back and forth between family members. When a family member catches the ball, have them describe a time when they felt the emotion facing them.
Alternatively, you could have the catcher act out an emotion, an activity specially suited for children. The intent of this exercise is to discuss emotions with your family and practice listening to one another and expressing your feelings. You can read more about this exercise here. This exercise can help a therapist to get to know a family better. If you are using it without the guidance of a therapist, it can help you to further your understanding of your own family and provoke thoughtful discussion. To give this exercise a try, gather a variety of art supplies and a gift bag.
Explain to the family that they are going to create a gift from the materials provided.
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This gift will be a gift for the whole family, that everyone in the family wants. They must decide together on this gift and how it can be used within their family. They have 30 minutes to decide on this gift and craft it. Once they have created the gift, they must place it in the gift bag. Within the context of family therapy, this exercise provides the therapist with a look at the inner workings of the family, how they make decisions and complete tasks as a unit.
If you are engaging in this exercise as a family without the presence of a therapist, it can help you to start a meaningful conversation. There is a wealth of information to be gained from observing these types of interactions or engaging in these kinds of discussion. To read more about this exercise, see pages 3 and 4 of the PDF mentioned earlier. You are going to be my mirror.
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Everything I do you will try to copy, but the trick is to copy me at exactly the same time that I am doing it, so that you are my mirror. I will go slowly so you have a chance to think about where I will be moving and so that we can do it exactly at the same time. I will lead first and then you will take a turn leading.
Reading the information on the Nutrition Facts label can help you choose foods high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals; and low in sodium , added sugars , and unhealthy fats, which federal dietary guidelines PDF, KB recommend Americans limit. The U.
Food and Drug Administration FDA Nutrition Facts label appears on most packaged foods and tells you how many calories and servings are in a box, can, or package. The label also shows how many nutrients are in one food serving. Try these tips to get past roadblocks that may keep you from eating well:.