Family members are usually among the most important figures in our lives, especially early in development. However, this does not always mean that families will be healthy and supportive. As anybody who has grown up in a dysfunctional family environment can tell you, your family environment plays a significant role in your development. Some dysfunctional families can impede the development of healthy boundaries and patterns. Fortunately, family therapy offers an important tool for families to address dysfunction and create and maintain healthy family dynamics.
What Family Therapy Can Help Treat
Therapy treatment centers are most often brought into the conversation in the context of mental health struggles. However, family therapy can address a wide range of family issues. Some of these include:
- Behavioral problems
- Grief or loss of a loved one
- Poor communication
- Parenting issues
- Divorce or marital separation
- Traumatic events
- Major life transitions
- Caring for a family member with a mental illness or disability
3 Family Therapy Activities
In family therapy, you will undertake a variety of therapeutic approaches intended to help you identify needs, family dysfunctions, and positive solutions. Although these family therapy activities are presented in the context of a counselor-client relationship, they can also be helpful at home. Some of the activities you may use in family therapy include:
1. The Miracle Question
This exercise focuses on understanding the family’s dreams and desires and can help family members understand the changes that their family wishes to see in their life. The Miracle Question is as follows:
“Suppose tonight, while you slept, a miracle occurred. When you awake tomorrow, what would be some of the things you would notice that would tell you life had suddenly gotten better?”
From their answer, the counselor can learn what the client wishes to see change in their life, which may point to the source of family difficulties. Other family members can hear their loved ones express their emotional needs. Finally, the client can envision a better future and set goals to work towards that future.
2. Emotions Ball
The Emotions Ball is a very simple exercise, making it perfect to use with children or teens. Take a beach ball and write several emotions on it, such as:
Then, pass the ball back and forth in a circle between family members. Each family member has to describe a time when they had felt the emotion facing them. This allows family members to express their emotions, which can be especially useful for children who may not be comfortable talking about their feelings. It also puts the family in a position where they must listen to each other’s feelings attentively.
A genogram is a visual representation of the client’s family tree. However, besides the basic information included in family trees, such as name, birth date, and death date, it can also be used to map family medical conditions and emotional relationships. A genogram may include information such as:
- Major family events
- Chronic illnesses
- Social relationships
- Substance abuse
The information provided by a genogram helps the counselor identify inter-generational patterns, such as a history of mental illness or substance abuse. It also can indicate relationships that may affect a client’s current behavior, such as strained relationships, estrangement, or abuse. This helps put the family’s struggles into a broader context for the counselor to better treat the issues at their root.
How Therapy Treatment Centers Can Address Family Dysfunction at Atlanta Center for Mental Health
If you seek family therapy in the Atlanta, Georgia area, Atlanta Center for Mental Health can provide the care you need. Our trained counselors will work with your family to design goals based on your family’s needs. We will then work in tandem with your family to improve communication, improve problem-solving skills, foster understanding, and create a more functional home environment. Families living in ATL can pursue therapy with Atlanta Center for Mental Health by calling 833.625.0458 or filling out our online contact form.