Family time shouldn’t be stressful.
Let’s talk about resolving conflicts and growing closer together.
Contrary to popular belief, family therapy is not only for “dysfunctional” family problems. The truth is that ANY family can benefit from expressing experiences in a safe space. Maybe your family is experiencing a divorce. Maybe your family is struggling to cope with the loss of a grandparent. You might be frustrated by your teenager’s desire for greater independence. Maybe your children are struggling to adjust after moving to a new city or starting at a new school. You might want to re-bond with extended relatives after a period of estrangement. Or maybe you and your adult siblings are seeking a space to understand each other better.
Beyond interpersonal concerns, sometimes family therapy is the ideal option for cases when one member of the family is struggling with something like an eating disorder, addiction, or self-harm behaviors. Sometimes issues can seem like “individual problems” on the surface, but usually when treated in the context of the family as a whole, complex relationship dynamics are revealed. Addressing these can be a significant part of the healing process for the individual. As a result, the entire family is strengthened.
There are an unlimited number of circumstances where family therapy can help. In any case, exploring the underlying themes and patterns that make up your family relationships can often be a transformative experience. Family therapy provides an opportunity to improve conflict-resolution skills, enhance communication, foster greater empathy for one another, forgive each other for past mistakes, and discover healthy ways to address family challenges.
River Oaks Psychology is committed to honoring the diversity of all families, holding space for the experiences of people in nuclear families, single-parent families, blended families, adoptive families, same-sex families, extended families, foster-parent families, childless families, and more. In addition, we recognize the importance of “chosen” families whereby members are not related by blood but have nonetheless become a family unit. We understand that all families are valid and there is no right or wrong way to become a family. Further, we are committed to understanding the unique experiences of family members who hold a different minority identity from the rest of their family, including family members of a different race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, or other difference.
Please note there is no requirement to have ALL members of your family present for family therapy to occur. We trust our patients to determine which individuals from your family would like to participate in therapy. We are also happy to help you explore these decisions together. Our goal is to help your family achieve greater wellness together and move toward a stronger future together.
Therapy can help families by:
We can help families answer:
How do we know if we need family therapy?
Sometimes it’s hard to determine if therapy is right for your family. Movies like Little Miss Sunshine (2006) and TV shows like Shameless (2011) portray intense family dysfunction that leave some people thinking, “my family isn’t like that, we don’t need therapy.” We want you to reject the idea that your family needs to have visible dysfunction in order for therapy to be justified. At River Oaks Psychology, there is no need for a family to have an identified “problem” in order to benefit from therapy. In fact, sometimes the best family therapy sessions are derived from healthy individuals who have come to receive support for continued wellness. Many families view therapy as a preventative health measure to deepen their understanding of each other and to guard against future conflicts.
In other words, family therapy can be a safe space to simply get to know each other better and to reflect on day-to-day stress in each other’s lives. It can also be a safe environment to talk about sensitive issues, such as death, sexuality, religion, chronic illness, politics, school concerns, parenting styles, and more. We want you to remember that therapy is controlled by you – it is your time, your space, your session, and your opportunity to use the support from your therapist in whatever way feels most helpful.
Therefore, if you are debating whether or not therapy is necessary, remember there is no need to reach a certain unhappiness threshold in order for therapy to be helpful.
Some signs that may indicate a need for counseling include:
Families and Telehealth
We love telehealth and list many benefits on our page, Why Online Therapy.
But there is another advantage of telehealth specifically for families: you and your family members do not need to be in the same location to participate in video sessions with your therapist. Our secure video therapy platform allows multiple people to access the video sessions from separate digital devices. Therefore, it’s not necessary for you and your family members to be sitting on the same couch sharing one digital-screen together. This is perfect for family members who do not live together, those with opposite work schedules, or those who simply prefer to sit alone during sessions.
How does Informed Consent work for families?
For family therapy, to comply with clinical record protocols, we can only list one member of the family as “the patient.” If the patient in family therapy is under 18, we require a parent/guardian with custodial rights to electronically sign our Informed Consent document (see more details under Counseling for Kids or Counseling for Teens.)
If using insurance, the family member serving as the patient will provide their individual insurance plan information. We are unable to split treatment costs between multiple people or multiple insurance plans.
Determining which individual should be the patient in family therapy can sometimes be confusing. Please consider a variety of factors, such as, insurance coverage, which individual is experiencing the primary concerns, or which individual will be present for the greatest number of sessions. If you have questions regarding how to determine who should be listed as the patient, please contact us and we will be happy to help you make this decision.
Please note that family therapy is not appropriate when there are problems interfering with the process, such as intentional hostility or abuse, untreated addictions, or other concerns directly interfering with therapy. While arguments or intense emotions are allowable and may occur in therapy, all family members should be interested in treatment and demonstrate a willingness to cooperate together. Most importantly, your therapist can talk to you more specifically about their therapeutic style and what will work best for your family.