Therapy for Families

Family time shouldn’t be stressful. Let’s talk about resolving conflicts and growing closer together.

Your family should be a circle of strength and love. Where people take care of each other. The roots that keep you feeling secure and connected.

If it doesn’t feel that way, let’s talk.

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.

FAQ about Family Therapy

People seek family therapy for various reasons, as every family is unique. Here are some common motivations for families to pursue therapy:

Communication Issues: Families may seek therapy when communication breakdowns occur, leading to frequent misunderstandings, conflicts, or a lack of effective communication strategies.

Family Conflicts: Families may turn to therapy to address persistent conflicts or to find healthier ways to resolve disagreements. Therapy can provide guidance on effective conflict resolution skills and promote understanding and empathy among family members.

Difficult Life Transitions and Changes: Significant life events such as divorce, blending families, moving, or the loss of a loved one can disrupt family dynamics. Family therapy offers support and guidance during these transitions, helping families navigate the changes and build resilience.

Stressful Family Dynamics: Families facing high levels of stress, such as due to work-life balance, financial pressures, or caregiving responsibilities, may seek therapy to manage and reduce stress levels. Therapy can help develop coping strategies and promote resilience in the face of challenges.

Unhealthy Parent-Child Relationship: Parents may seek family therapy to improve their relationship with their child or address parenting challenges. Therapy can help parents understand their child’s needs, improve communication, and establish a more supportive and nurturing environment.

Toxic Sibling Relationships: Family therapy can help siblings develop stronger bonds, improve communication, and resolve conflicts. It offers strategies for fostering cooperation, empathy, and mutual support among siblings.

Behavioral Issues: When a family member exhibits challenging behaviors or struggles with issues such as substance abuse, addiction, or mental health concerns, therapy can provide a space for understanding the underlying causes and developing strategies for support and intervention.

Trauma or Grief: Families dealing with traumatic experiences or loss may seek therapy to process their emotions, heal as a unit, and rebuild their sense of safety and connection.

Problems with Family Bonds: Even in relatively healthy families, therapy can be sought as a way to deepen understanding, improve relationships, and strengthen family bonds. It offers a space for reflection, growth, and proactive measures to maintain family well-being.

Anxious Transitions: Families may seek therapy to prepare for upcoming transitions, such as welcoming a new family member, preparing for marriage, or adjusting to changes in family roles and responsibilities. Therapy can help navigate these transitions and ensure a smooth adjustment.

Generational Conflicts: Family therapy can address conflicts that arise from generational differences, differing values, or cultural clashes. It provides a platform for understanding and bridging the gap between different perspectives within the family.

Lack of Trust: Families grappling with trust issues, betrayal, or past hurts may benefit from therapy. It offers a safe space for open dialogue, healing, and rebuilding trust within the family.

Challenges in Blended Families: Blended families seeking to build harmonious relationships among step-parents, step-siblings, and biological children may seek therapy. It offers a space for navigating complex dynamics, establishing new family norms, and fostering a sense of unity.

Lack of Emotional Connection: Family therapy can help families deepen their emotional connection and foster a sense of closeness and intimacy. It provides an opportunity to express and receive emotional support within a safe and structured environment.

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. Sometimes the best family therapy sessions are derived from 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. Working with a therapist provides a platform for family members to gain a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives, experiences, and emotions. It promotes empathy, compassion, and fosters a sense of togetherness.

Family therapy also equips families with effective communication strategies, such as active listening, assertiveness, and conflict resolution techniques. These skills enhance communication within the family and promote healthier interactions. Even in seemingly functional families, underlying issues or conflicts may exist. Therapy can help families develop healthy coping strategies to navigate life’s challenges, stressors, and transitions. It provides a supportive environment where families can learn and practice resilience, adaptability, and problem-solving skills.

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.

Yes, there are signs that may indicate a need for family therapy. While it is important to remember that every family is unique, there are common indicators that suggest therapy could be beneficial. Here are some signs to consider:

  • Feeling overwhelmed by any kind of family stress that is causing friction in the relationships
  • Feeling anxious, depressed, irritable, resentful, or generally upset about family dynamics
  • Frequent fighting or ongoing arguments among each other
  • Frequent criticism among each other or instances of disrespect, hostility, or lack of empathy
  • Family struggles due to miscommunications, different personalities, or value differences
  • Emotional pain caused by family dynamics which may be interfering with forgiveness
  • Family members feeling angry or generally upset about necessary family compromises
  • Making quick family decisions without fully exploring thoughts, feelings, and consequences for everyone
  • Reduced ability to solve problems in the family or feeling incapable of moving forward
  • Struggling with balancing family responsibilities that are negatively impacting the relationships
  • Socially withdrawing from each other due to problems in the family dynamics
  • Patterns of manipulation, distrust, reduced vulnerability, lack of bonding, or emotional detachment
  • Problems related to attachment-styles, such as family members experiencing intense separation anxiety
  • Struggling to set and maintain appropriate boundaries between family members
  • Any signs of domestic violence, abuse, harassment, or desires to hurt one another
  • Experiencing a difficult adjustment to parents choosing to separate or divorce
  • Difficulty adjusting to new family roles, for example, when a young adult child moves away to college
  • Children feeling neglected or abandoned after the birth of a younger sibling
  • Family difficulties stemming from the learning curve of being new parents for the first time
  • Struggling with adjustments relating to a blended family, such as a new stepmom or stepdad
  • Child and adolescent behavioral problems, relating to school, friends, safety, or emotional health
  • Not knowing how to support a loved one with anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, or other concern
  • Any adoption-related challenges, whether parents are seeking to adopt or whether an adopted child is struggling
  • Struggling with the re-bonding of family members after previously being estranged from one another
  • Ongoing family grief, related to the loss of a loved one, lots of abilities, missing the past, or other types of grief

Family therapy provides a safe, supportive space where family members can address challenges, gain new perspectives, and develop skills to nurture a healthier, more fulfilling family unit. Therapists work collaboratively with family members to create lasting positive change, promoting resilience, and fostering greater satisfaction within the family. Specifically, therapy can be highly beneficial for families in several ways:

Improved Communication: Therapy provides a safe and structured space for family members to enhance their communication skills. Through guided discussions and exercises, families can learn effective communication strategies, active listening, and respectful expression of thoughts and emotions.

Conflict Resolution: Therapy equips families with tools and techniques to navigate conflicts constructively. It helps family members understand and address underlying issues, find common ground, and work towards mutually beneficial solutions.

Strengthened Relationships: Therapy fosters a deeper understanding and empathy among family members. It helps strengthen emotional bonds, build trust, and promote healthier relationships by addressing past hurts, resentments, and misunderstandings.

Healing from Trauma: Families who have experienced trauma can find healing and support in therapy. Therapists provide a safe space to process and work through the effects of trauma, helping families rebuild trust, resilience, and a sense of security.

Parenting Support: Therapy offers guidance and support for parents, helping them develop effective parenting techniques, manage challenging behaviors, and address parenting concerns. It provides a space to discuss parenting strategies, navigate developmental stages, and strengthen the parent-child relationship.

Resolving Family Dynamics: Therapy explores and addresses unhealthy family dynamics, such as power struggles, role confusion, or enmeshment. It helps identify patterns that may contribute to tension and conflict, and assists in establishing healthier, more functional dynamics.

Managing Transitions: Families facing significant life transitions, such as divorce, remarriage, relocation, or blending of families, can benefit from therapy. It offers support, guidance, and coping strategies to navigate these changes, helping families adjust and adapt more smoothly.

Enhancing Coping Skills: Therapy equips families with coping strategies to manage stress, challenges, and transitions. It promotes resilience, problem-solving, and healthy coping mechanisms, strengthening the family’s ability to navigate difficult situations.

Promoting Family Well-being: Therapy focuses on overall family well-being, helping families create a positive and nurturing environment. It emphasizes self-care, emotional support, and the development of healthy family rituals and routines.

Building Empathy and Understanding: Therapy encourages family members to develop empathy and understanding for one another’s experiences, perspectives, and needs. This fosters a culture of respect, compassion, and support within the family.

Developing Problem-Solving Skills: Therapy assists families in developing effective problem-solving skills. It encourages creative thinking, collaboration, and the exploration of alternative solutions to family challenges and conflicts.

Enhancing Resilience: Therapy helps families develop resilience, which is the ability to bounce back from adversity and navigate difficult situations. It equips families with tools and strategies to adapt, recover, and grow stronger through challenging circumstances.

Building Healthy Boundaries: Therapy guides families in establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries. It helps family members recognize and respect each other’s needs, personal space, and autonomy, fostering a balanced and respectful family dynamic.

Promoting Individual Growth: Therapy recognizes the importance of individual growth within the family system. It supports each family member’s personal development, self-esteem, and self-awareness, contributing to the overall growth and well-being of the family.

Respecting Diversity and Differences: Therapy promotes respect for diversity within families. It helps family members appreciate and embrace each other’s unique qualities, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds, fostering a more inclusive and accepting family environment.

Cultivating a Sense of Gratitude and Appreciation: Therapy encourages families to express gratitude and appreciation for one another. It highlights the importance of recognizing and acknowledging the strengths, efforts, and positive qualities of family members, fostering a culture of appreciation and support.

Therapy can help families explore and find answers to a wide range of questions that may arise within their relationships. Here are some common questions that therapy can assist families in addressing:

  • How can we improve communication and resolve conflicts within our family?
  • What strategies can we implement to strengthen family bonds?
  • How do we navigate major life transitions or changes as a family?
  • What can we do to better understand and support each family member’s unique needs?
  • How can we establish and maintain healthy boundaries within our family?
  • What parenting techniques and approaches can we use to address behavioral issues?
  • How can we promote a positive and supportive family culture?
  • What can we do to manage stress and balance responsibilities within the family?
  • How can we navigate blended family dynamics and foster a sense of unity?
  • How do we address and heal from past family traumas or conflicts?
  • What strategies can we use to promote individual and collective growth within the family?
  • How can we effectively manage and cope with mental health challenges within the family?
  • How can we promote healthy sibling relationships and address rivalry or conflict?
  • How do we foster a sense of belonging and acceptance within the family?
  • What steps can we take to build resilience and adaptability as a family?
  • How can we help our children adjust after a divorce?
  • How can we cope with our incompatible political beliefs?
  • How can we remain closely connected as a family despite substance abuse issues?
  • How can our family members reunite after we have been estranged from each other?
  • What are some of the best ways to have difficult conversations among each other?
  • How can we finally heal from resentment that has lasted for many years?
  • How can we make family holidays more enjoyable for everyone?
  • How can my adult siblings and I learned to get along even though we are so different?
  • How can we cope with a “family secret” involving past trauma that was just revealed?
  • How can we talk to our kids about issues like disabilities, medical conditions, cancer, etc.?
  • What are some ways that my family can heal from some domestic violence that occurred?
  • How can we adjust to changing family roles while also maintaining some familiar bonds?
  • How can we help our kids adjust to our recent move to a new city or attending a new school?

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 Therapy for Children and Therapy 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.

YES. You and your family members do not need to be in the same location to both 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 to be sitting on the same couch sharing one digital-screen together. This is perfect for family members who do not live together or who simply prefer to sit alone during sessions.

Family therapy is a collaborative process that requires mutual commitment and consent. It is important to respect each individual’s autonomy and choice in seeking therapy. We cannot force or mandate your family to engage in therapy if they are not interested.

While it may be disappointing or challenging when your family is resistant to participating, it is crucial to have open and honest communication about your desires and concerns. Express your reasons for wanting family therapy and the potential benefits it can bring to your relationship. Encourage your family members to share their perspective and listen with empathy and understanding.

In situations where family members are not interested in family therapy, you still have the option to seek individual therapy for yourself. Individual therapy can provide you with a supportive space to explore your thoughts, emotions, and family dynamics. It can also help you develop healthy coping strategies and gain insights that may positively influence your family relationships. As you gain insights and develop healthier communication and coping skills, it may inspire positive changes within your family.

Ultimately, the decision to engage in family therapy must be a mutual one. It is important to respect each other’s choices and boundaries. Our therapists are here to support you in navigating family challenges, whether through family therapy or individual therapy.

It is our policy to recommend different therapists for individual therapy and family therapy. This approach is designed to ensure that the family therapy process remains neutral, unbiased, and focused on the specific needs of your family. Having separate therapists for individual therapy and family therapy allows each therapeutic space to maintain its unique purpose.

Individual therapy provides a confidential and dedicated space for personal exploration, growth, and addressing individual concerns. Family therapy, on the other hand, focuses on the dynamics, communication, and challenges within the family as a whole.

Having the same therapist for both individual and family therapy can create potential challenges to maintaining neutrality and impartiality. The role of a family therapist is to facilitate open communication, provide unbiased guidance, and address the dynamics within the family. They must remain neutral and act in the best interest of the family as a whole.

EVERY family is welcome here. Your unique needs MATTER!

  • Nuclear Family
  • Extended Family
  • Single-Parent Family
  • Blended Family
  • Same-Sex Parent Family
  • Adoptive Family
  • Foster Family
  • Grandparent-Led Family
  • Multi-Generational Family
  • Childless Family
  • Intercultural Family
  • Military Family
  • Co-Parenting Family
  • Guardian-Led Family
  • Single-Child Family
  • Empty Nest Family
  • Self-Chosen Family
  • Adult Siblings Without Parents
  • Special Needs Family
  • Polyamorous Family