Online and In Person Family Therapy
Is your family struggling and in need of counseling? Learn about the different family therapy options and how to select the best family therapist.
All families experience daily struggles and disagreements. Sometimes those struggles are small and easy to handle internally within family units. However, talking through problems within households does not always yield immediate solutions. There are many situations that may require external assistance from a trained professional to resolve. For example, when children have behavioral disorders family therapy is often necessary. Families with multiple children or multiple stress sources, such as financial struggles or health challenges, may also need therapy to work through their various issues.
If you think your family may need therapy, the first thing you must decide is the type of family therapy required. Next, you must learn how to find available therapists in your area. Carefully choosing a specific therapist from those available is also important. The therapy type and the specific therapist must suit the dynamic of your family. The information below can help you select the family therapist that is best for your family's situation and needs.
What Are Family Therapy Services?
Poor relationships within families are quite common. They often contribute to issues like drug and alcohol abuse among parents, as well as adolescents and teenagers. Such problems also contribute to the rising adolescent suicide rate. Family therapy aims to reduce such problems. It is a specific type of group psychological therapy. The purpose of it is to teach children and parents how to communicate in more effective and constructive ways. Family therapy is commonly used to:
Set Clear Boundaries for Parents and Children
Address Addictions Within Families
Cope With Mental Illness of Particular Family Members
Recognize and Adjust Specific Behavioral Issues of Family Members
Address Domestic Violence
Help Family Members Cope With Divorce or Deaths
What Are the Benefits of Family Therapy?
Basic communication is one of the biggest benefits of family therapy. Many parents today are quite busy. As a result, they often struggle to communicate with their children effectively. They can even struggle to communicate well with their spouses. Family therapy provides a designated time and forum for family communication. Therefore, each family member can feel heard and have his or her emotions or opinions validated. Other potential family therapy benefits include:
Increased Mutual Respect Among Family Members
Understanding Needs of All Family Members
Family therapy also presents an excellent opportunity for families to discuss difficult topics. Parents and children may feel physically or emotionally safer discussing such topics with therapists present. For example, topics like deaths, divorces, and teenage pregnancies are frequently discussed in family therapy sessions. Discussing such topics in a safe, emotionally controlled manner allows all parties to feel heard and recognized.
What Are In-Person and Virtual Family Therapy?
Family therapy falls in two categories. In-person therapy is also known as traditional family therapy. It involves family members sitting down in an office with a therapist to discuss their family issues. Family therapy sessions held in person are usually scheduled. They often occur once per week or once every other week. They are also typically restricted to a specific amount of time, such as 45 minutes or one hour.
Virtual family therapy typically takes place remotely using various types of technology. Therapists and families communicate on an as needed basis, rather than at set times. Texts and emails are common forms of virtual therapy. Some virtual therapists also schedule certain interactions, such as telephone calls or video conferences.
How Do In-Person and Virtual Family Therapy Compare?
In-person and virtual family therapy each have specific benefits and drawbacks. Face-to-face meetings with therapists are often beneficial because visual cues can provide further insights into family dynamics. Certain types of therapy techniques are also best performed in person, such as play therapy with young children or art therapy. Additionally, many family members may find meeting in the neutral space of a therapist's office helpful.
In contrast, virtual therapy is not always visual, and feelings or thoughts are sometimes difficult to interpret in text form. However, the ability to connect virtually with a therapist as needed without an appointment can appeal to some family members. Large families may find it particularly difficult to commit to in-person therapy due to schedule conflicts. Virtual therapy may also appeal to families on tight budgets. It is typically less expensive than in-person scheduled therapy sessions.
What Are Some Resources You Can Use to Find a Family Therapist?
If you are seeking a family therapist, there are many ways to find one that is right for you. For virtual therapy, you can start at BetterHelp or TalkSpace. Both have certified professional therapists available with many specializations, including family therapy. If you prefer to attend family therapy in person, these tools can help you find a family therapist in your area:
The American Psychological Association (APA) Psychologist Locator
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) Therapist Locator
How Can You Select a Family Therapist?
Choosing a therapist is sometimes difficult. It is often extra difficult when the goal is family therapy because the needs of each family member impact the type of therapist required. For example, certain family members may feel more comfortable with a therapist of a particular gender or respond better to a particular type of personality in a therapist. A good way to begin is by speaking to your family physician and your insurance provider. After pulling together a list of potential therapists, check their credentials. Then schedule initial consultations. Use the consultation appointments to assess how comfortable your family is with each therapist before making a choice.
When Should You Change Family Therapists?
If the family therapist you initially choose does not work out, you can change therapists. When a therapist makes anyone in your family uncomfortable, a change is in order. Your family situation may also require different forms of therapy over time. A good therapist can help your family adapt to those changes. For example, you may opt to switch from in-person to virtual sessions, or vice versa. If the therapist is unable or unwilling to adapt to your family needs, find a new family therapist immediately.