Trying family therapy or working with a family therapist can be life changing for some families. It allows an outlet for all of the built-up tension, anxiety, and anger. Family therapy can allow you to release your frustrations and teach you ways to better cope with these unfamiliar and extremely difficult situations like divorce and separation.
Navigating the Emotions of Divorce with Family Therapy
Navigating the feelings that often come with a divorce or a change in a family dynamic can be difficult for all parties involved. It can especially be difficult for children because they are at the mercy of their parents and often not fully informed with what is going on. High emotions are experienced at this time and can be hard for anyone to manage on their own. It’s hard to keep a clear mind and make rational decisions.
Family therapy really focuses on helping individuals with these emotions move through and past the negativity and gain a brighter outlook on the situation. Working with a marriage or family therapist is helpful because these therapists have exceptional training and experience in aiding individuals to get through similar times in their life. Often family therapists have experienced something similar themselves and can relate to the situation.
Finding the Right Therapist for You and Your Family
Below are a few things to consider in determining if a therapist is the “right fit” for you and your family.
Who does the therapist talk to?
Every therapist operates slightly different. Generally, a family therapist will talk to people that are intertwined and heavily involved in the family’s life. This obviously includes each member of the family, teachers, extended family members, and maybe caregivers. It certainly will depend upon how severe the issues are.
The therapist will likely start with individual sessions which may lead to some group therapy or the child may have therapy sessions with each parent separately. Every family is different and experiences different needs. Generally, family therapists are really in tune with what is the best fit for each family dynamic. Therapists who work with children, especially children who are at a very young age, often like to talk with all the prominent adult figures in a child’s life to ensure everyone is aware and on board with helping the child navigate through this confusing and/or difficult time.
When is the best time to start therapy?
Now! Therapy is beneficial for anyone at any time. If your family is experiencing the effects of divorce or separation, sooner than later is the best time to start. I would recommend researching therapists in your area and meeting with a few to get a feel for their different approaches and strategies. Tell them a little about your family and why you want to incorporate family therapy into your family’s regular routine and they will have advice for you. It’s never too late to being therapy. Therapy is offered for just about every stage of life changes.
How do you select a family therapist?
There are so many different kinds of family therapists. Do some online research, talk to any connections you may have, and meet with a few therapists before officially selecting one. You will find some specialize in older children and others in younger children. Often therapist’s bios and reviews of prior clients are easily accessible online, so don’t forget to check them out.
At your initial consultation, be sure to voice your concerns and explain what you are looking for in therapy. Maybe it’s reunification with a parent or helping your child navigate through the changes in the new family dynamic. No matter how big or small, therapy will be beneficial.
Once you select a family therapist, be sure to give them a chance to get to know you and your situation, but if after some time the therapy does not appear to be helping, it may be time to find a better fit. Don’t be afraid to speak up!
How does family therapy help children in a divorce situation?
Children, no matter their age, are growing and developing at a rapid pace. They are especially susceptible to struggling with processing emotions and life changes. Some children are better at adjusting to the changes inherent in divorce and separation than others. Generally speaking, however, all children could use some professional guidance in processing these complex and often painful emotions.
Family therapy gives a child a neutral place to share their concerns.
It’s healthy for them to voice their concerns to a neutral party because they can be honest. This is a good way for your child to have someone to talk to other than you or your former spouse/significant other. If the therapist truly believes something is wrong, they will notify you immediately. It’s imperative that children understand a divorce or separation is not their fault. It’s crucial for children to learn and accept their new role in the family so they feel that they belong and have a designated place.