Most of us at least grew up in a home where conflict was a reality of multiple related persons living under one roof. This conflict is often totally harmless and just a type of hermetic stress for the relationships as they grow and expand to cover new boundaries and situations, but sometimes they can persist as long-term issues.
At those times, it becomes necessary to seek outside help to find a resolution. The causes can be due to either natural stressors like kids growing up and wanting to establish their individuality to unnatural stressors like divorce or an alcohol problem. If there’s an alcohol problem, the person who’s addicted, will need alcohol abuse treatment.
The point is that in family therapy there is a professional present who has seen nearly everything before and can advise a family through the tough times they are facing.
Below are five ways that family therapy can help in situations in which parents and children are struggling to get through conflicts.
Build Communication Channels
Communication is a very broadly used term, but it has a lot of meaning in these situations. Almost every conflict in history could have been handled better if both parties had established open communication channels to get their message across.
This may sound simplistic, but there is rarely a situation where one party is truly seeking to hurt the other party. There are just misperceived actions and perhaps uninformed decision-making that led to worse situations if not properly addressed.
Similar to building communication channels, family therapy can help in situations where one party has falsely assumed the intentions or beliefs of the other party. Most often, this occurs when an adolescent is coming to a certain age where they want to go off on their own, but they perceive small signals that their parents are going to fight that.
Assuming that you won’t be allowed certain freedoms and then getting angry about it is a recipe for future conflicts. By addressing these problems early on and then moderating them into the future, it’s possible to prevent a lot of conflicts down the line. As a general rule, getting two people on the same page isn’t going to make things worse.
Improve Daily Life
Usually, what brings about the need for family therapy in the first place is the unbearable conditions that have been perpetuated by growing hostility between two parties. It’s one thing to have a fight every few weeks, but quite another to feel like your own home is a warzone and something could erupt at any time.
The feelings you have on a daily basis are usually the best indicator of the health of your family relationships. There will always be conflicts, but, on average, you should feel good about your home, and seek help from a family therapist if that isn’t true.
Handling arguments is one of those soft skills that takes a lot of work to master. Over the course of our lives, we will get in numerous disagreements, and the hardest part of it is figuring out how to learn from each one of them.
Sometimes this means needing to separate one’s ego from the moment and see what is actually happening. Usually, the same facts are interpreted completely differently because of varying points of view. This isn’t to say you will always be wrong, but sometimes you might have to admit you’re wrong, and you need to be ready for that. There is also the strong possibility that you need to concede in an argument to preserve the overall health of the relationship.
Family therapists are trained in this regard and can help you work through conflicts. One of the most frequent issues occurs after a divorce when there are lots of hurt feelings and children tend to lash out. In these cases, a family therapist might be exactly what you need to keep a cool head and let everyone have their feelings heard.
True conflict resolution occurs when you can find a solution that both parties agree with and can move on. Ideally, this means that both parties perceive the solution as a win-win and the same conflict doesn’t occur again in the future.
This is a skill that family therapists have worked on for a long time, and it’s difficult to master because it takes an understanding of all the parties in the conflict and what each of them truly wants. For this to happen, many of the earlier results need to occur as well. Everyone has to be communicating, assumptions need to be knocked down, and true openness has to be achieved.
From here, it takes the realization that the ultimate goal is never for any single person to win, but for the family to be able to go back to functioning as one cohesive unit. Once everyone internalizes this and sees it as the overarching goal, the family can begin healing.
Families are complicated organisms and conflict is inevitable. It’s the immature and poorly planned ways we handle this conflict that is preventable. There’s a reason there are so many movies and sitcoms based around this sort of conflict: we can all relate. Knowing this should make you feel much more normal and comfortable with admitting the fact that you might need to reach out to a therapist for extra help resolving your issues.
Family therapy can be very helpful with handling the conflicts that tend to arise as children grow to adolescence. The changes they go through mean that unresolved issues are more likely to come to the foreground and arguments might ensue. There is no reason to handle this problem alone. By seeking help, you can be sure that your family heals and gets back to a normal way of life.