‘I think for me, home needs to be a sanctuary. I need to feel like I’ve escaped the day when I get home.’ Bella Heathcote.
The feeling described above, about home and family life, is something many of us share – but what happens when there is conflict within the household?
Home should be a place of inner sanctum, where you can leave some of your daily problems at the door.
However when it is not, like a domino effect, it knocks down the whole stack and usually affects everyone under the roof.
What Sort of Families can benefit from Family Therapy?
The existence of the ‘typical’ family – mum, dad and children, is in essence becoming less of a norm in our society. However that is not to presume that the ‘normal’ family no longer exists.
Family therapy can be tailored to suit all types of families. It can be required when two or more members – or even the whole family unit – are unable to function, causing friction, which can escalate into anger, arguments, behavioural issues, withdrawal from the family unit and even violence.
A common example is people who already have children, and remarry. There can be all sorts of issues which arise as stepchildren can be brought together to live together. Or, biological family members can find themselves in conflict just as easily.
In their book “Family Therapy: an overview”, Herbert and Irene Goldenberg have produced examples of how family members will differ – an outline of the different aspects of social factors, lifestyle and multicultural issues, which can impact on a family.
The Goldenbergs look at how each family is shaped by a ‘multitude of “interlocking phenomena” including race, ethnicity, social class membership, family life cycle stage, number of generations in this country, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and the physical and mental health of its members.’
Solution Focused Family Therapy
In their book, the Goldenbergs discuss the option of Solution Focused Therapy for families. They define Solution Focused Therapy as being ‘founded on the rationale that there are exceptions to every problem and through examining these exceptions and having a clear vision of a preferred future, client and counsellor, together, can generate ides for solutions. Solution focused therapists are competency and future focused. They highlight and utilise client strengths to enable a more effective future.’
The aim for this type of therapy is, as the title implies, solution focused. Identifying how to resolve the issues at hand, would be the main aim and objective which family and therapist work on together.
Guidelines for Family Therapy
When working with a family, a counsellor or any professional should adhere to these guidelines:
- Be inclusive and considerate of the needs of each member of the family, and/or other key relationships (systems), in people’s lives.
- Recognise and build on peoples’ strengths and relational resources.
- Work in partnership ‘with’ families and others, not ‘on’ them.
- Be sensitive to diverse family forms and relationships, beliefs and cultures.
- Enable people to talk, together or individually, often about difficult or distressing issues, in ways that respect their experiences, invite engagement and support recovery.
- Diffuse any potential conflict as far as possible.
- Support each member of the family equally, and ensure everyone is getting their time to talk and express how they feel.
- Promote listening from all family members.
- Suggest any other forms of therapy – sometimes for an individual family member, which will help with resolving issues.
- Not tolerate any abusive, aggressive or threatening behaviour.
- Work towards a common goal – to resolve issues within the family as agreed at the start of therapy (although more issues may arise).
Families can be tried and tested in numerous ways. Whether your family is struggling to cope with grief and loss, constant conflict, or some other challenge, please book an appointment with me so that together we can work out ways that your family can achieve household harmony.
Author: Liz Taylor, BA (Hons).
Liz Taylor is a social worker with over ten years’ experience in providing counselling and therapy to individuals and families. Liz’s counselling strategies are drawn from the Relapse Prevention Model, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT). She is passionate about enabling her clients to function and feel a sense of control in their lives, and to achieve the goals and outcomes that they wish.
To make an appointment with mental health social worker and counselling professional, Liz Taylor, try Online Booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.
- H. Goldberg & I. Goldberg ‘Family Therapy An Overview’ Seventh Edition, 2008 Thomson Brooks/Cole, Belmont, USA.
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