at Red Cedar
Family therapy is a type of therapy that focuses on improving communication between family members, solving recurring or difficult family problems, and creating a healthier home environment for everyone in the family. Every family is different, with their own unique dynamics and challenges.
When difficulties arise, conversations can become heated and emotions can make finding a common understanding almost impossible. Children can find it difficult to express how they’re feeling to their parents, and blended families can face the challenge of helping everyone to feel comfortable and loved.
Professional family counselors help families to discuss challenges using healthy communication skills, and provide a safe space for each member of the family to share their opinions, emotions, and struggles. Family therapy can be utilized for children, parents, siblings, and step families of all ages to strengthen their relationships and develop a healthier, happier household.
For family therapy in the Lansing, MI area, as well as online, contact the team at Red Cedar Relationship Counseling. The professionals at Red Cedar Relationship Counseling are compassionate, trained, and well-experienced in family counseling, with a passion for seeing families grow stronger and healthier together. Contact us to talk with a counselor or set up an appointment.
How does family therapy work?
The goal of family therapy is to address specific issues that affect the health and functioning of a family. Family therapy is designed around the needs of the family and is based off of their specific dynamics in order to ensure its effectiveness. The term “family” is also understood to not only include blood relatives, but anyone who plays a long-term supportive role in someone’s life.
There are many different reasons for pursuing family therapy, one being that there is a breakdown in communication between family members, another that one family member is struggling and the others want to learn how to better support them.
Common types of family therapy include:
One-on-one counseling sessions with each family member
Sometimes, the family's communication has broken down so badly that family members refuse to talk with each other and will only talk one-on-one with a counselor about the family’s problems. Other times, family members don’t feel comfortable being fully honest with their family yet, and need to vent or talk with a counselor first.
Boundaries within a family are important for creating healthy power dynamics in the home. Parents need to have a level of control in order to keep their children safe, and children need to feel comfortable at home, expressing their emotions and talking about their challenges. In order to strengthen family relationships, the counselor may decide to have the family interact or play together like they would at home, in order to observe their behaviors and offer counseling advice for more healthy relationships.
In strategic counseling, the counselor uses a more direct approach to help the family work through problems. The counselor may choose to assign each family homework with the intention of challenging them to pursue different communication or decision making. With this form of therapy, the counselor has more control, and is actively instructing the family on changes they need to make for a healthier family dynamic.
A counselor may choose to indirectly influence the decisions and communication strategies of family members by creating an environment in which the counselor is the neutral discussion leader, but the family members are the ones diving deeper into tough topics. This technique in counseling allows family members to think about the reasoning behind one another’s communication problems, and discuss openly the ways in which changes need to be made.
Children often struggle to express their emotions in a healthy way. When challenges arise in their life, they sometimes express how they feel in unhealthy ways, such as anger outbursts or retreating in isolation.
Parents can struggle to understand what’s happening and how to help when the child doesn’t express specifically what’s making them feel this way. Child therapy is a safe space for children to talk with a licensed, compassionate counselor to discuss how the child is feeling and how they can better express themselves.
Some children feel scared to talk with their parents about what’s going on, for fear of getting in trouble. Other times it could be that the child is struggling to understand why they feel a certain way and need a trained professional to help them understand their own emotions better. Whatever the reason, child therapy allows children to understand and express their emotions in healthier ways, while also creating healthy habits they can use forever.
Common signs that a child may need to talk with a child counselor include:
Engaging in power struggles at home, at school, or with groups of friends
Refusing to take responsibility for behaviors/accusing others of being responsible for their actions
Lashing out or isolating themselves after a divorce of the loss of a family member
Excess worrying and anxiety
Lack of motivation in school or to go and play with friends
Struggling to enjoy things that they used to love
Child counselors focus on building trust with the child first, so that they feel comfortable and safe expressing their emotions, discussing difficult situations, and accepting healthier skills and solutions. The relationship between a counselor and a child is different than the relationship between a parent and a child.
Children can often feel that the parent is only giving them advice because they want the child to comply with their rules. Counselors, on the other hand, have to develop a trusting relationship first with the child so that the child is able to see that the counselor is offering advice based on their genuine concern for the child’s well-being.
Parents are included in the child counseling process, but with certain measures to protect the privacy of the child and to allow them to feel comfortable sharing information that they don’t want their parents to know. Any information that could affect the safety of a child is shared with the parents, but smaller details may be kept private in order to create a safe space for the child to be open and honest.
Parents are given progress updates on how the child is developing through therapy sessions, and are sometimes included in the therapy sessions to practice healthy communication skills between the child and their parents. Every child is different, and thus every child therapy strategy is different as well, but the overall goal is always to help the child be healthier and happier in their day-to-day life.
Parents may choose to speak privately with their child’s therapist to discuss ways in which they can be supporting their child’s progress as well. When everyone involved in the child’s life comes together to support the goals of child therapy, the child will see significant improvement in their emotional well-being and in their academic and personal lives as well.
Red Cedar Relationship Counseling
Red Cedar Relationship Counseling offers a team of professional and licensed family counselors to help families create a healthier and stronger family dynamic. Our family counselors are compassionate, trustworthy, and experienced in the field of family counseling. With years of experience in offering counseling services, our counselors understand the many different types of families and the different problems that each family may face.
Our family therapy services are focused on your specific families’ needs, and we offer solutions and advice that is tailored for your specific family style. We aren’t here to change your family. We simply want to help families grow stronger and healthier together.
For more information on family therapy and child therapy, or to talk with the child and family therapists at Red Cedar Relationship Counseling, contact us below. We offer family therapy and child therapy in the Lansing, MI area as well as online.