Having a healthy family can be one of your biggest support systems throughout your life. When your family system is functioning correctly, you offer each other support in the hard times and celebrate the good times together.
However, when your family system isn’t functioning well, it may mean that you’re not doing much supporting or celebrating each other. This is often a sign that your family might benefit from some family counseling.
Dr. Judy E. Vansiea of Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services explains more about the benefits of family counseling, and how you can tell whether your family needs it.
What is a healthy family?
Healthy families come in all different varieties. It doesn’t matter if your family is made up of the traditional mom, dad, and two kids, grandparents in the same household, or if you have stepchildren or unofficially adopted children living under the same roof. Relationship counseling can benefit every type of relationship.
If your family is healthy, you’re able to discuss even difficult issues without too much drama. You can enjoy each other’s company when you’re together. You have clear boundaries with each other and don’t share things outside the family.
Ultimately, you solve problems together when they arise and communicate well without shouting.
What happens if your family isn’t healthy
If your family isn’t healthy based on the above definition, you’re not the only one. Few families meet the standard of healthy communication. Keep in mind, however, that your family doesn’t have to stay in that zone of unhealthy behaviors.
When your family isn’t healthy, it probably feels like you’re spending a lot of your time stuck in drama. Maybe you have fights with each other over misunderstandings or failure to stick to previously agreed-upon roles.
All of these problems are fixable! You just need to learn how to communicate with each other — which is what counseling can teach you.
What you learn in family counseling
In family counseling, you learn how to communicate in a healthier manner. This includes some of the following skills:
Define everyone’s expected roles
Part of what makes a family work is the sense that you’re all on the same team. But if you’re not sure of each person’s responsibilities, it can lead to a lot of arguing and fighting.
If you come home from work and no one cleaned the kitchen, for example, you may lash out at everyone for their failure to get it cleaned up. But when you have roles clearly defined, you know exactly who didn’t get the kitchen cleaned up, and can deal with that person directly as not having kept their end of the bargain.The key is also setting healthy boundaries in a family so that roles and expectations are aligned.
How to communicate without arguing
Does it seem like there’s a fight every time your family tries to talk? That doesn’t have to be the case.
You learn which “trigger phrases” to avoid in healthy communication. You also learn how to keep your focus on your own feelings, without having to shift blame to others. You also learn not to enable others in wrong doing too and hold each other accountable for unacceptable behaviors.
Along those lines, you learn how to come to healthy conflict resolutions of difficult issues without yelling or raising your voice and also not ignoring the situations or sweeping them under the carpet. The trick is all in how you use your words to achieve mutually acceptable solutions and understanding how to respectfully agree to disagree.
How to face shared challenges together
Families often face shared challenges together. These situations, like the loss of a parent, family member, prolonged unemployment, or living with a low income, would be difficult for any family. Getting through these situations is challenging but not impossible.
Family counseling can help you learn how to face difficult situations together and ultimately become stronger as a unit once you desire to take the first step to change.
If you know your family could have healthier communications or face challenges together as a team, you may benefit from family counseling. Contact Dr. Vansiea at Coping Nurse Practitioner in Psychiatry Services in Uniondale, New York, or request an appointment online.