There is not much question that when a family is healthy and happy, all seems right in the world. Fathers experience their greatest joys within the confines of a stable and healthy family relationship.
But not all families are stable, healthy, and happy all the time. The stresses of modern life, the need for better work-life balance, a family crisis of one kind or another or mental health challenges for one or more family members can bring a family to its knees at any time.
Children with disabilities, financial stresses, behavioral challenges, and just the ages and stages of different children can create challenges that may require some help to resolve.
Many families have some built-in resiliency to many of these problems. But even the best families can feel a need for help beyond the family’s own resources.
Deciding if marriage and family therapy is right for a family can be a big decision. While it may feel initially like admitting defeat or failure, in reality choosing family counseling can be a big step forward. Think of family counseling as adding some tools to your family’s relationship toolbox. You can learn new ways to communicate, to work through problems, to discipline, and to relate to one another.
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When to Seek Help
If your family is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, it may be time to consider engaging the services of a qualified professional marriage and family therapist.
- Family members have difficulty functioning in their normal capacity. Do you feel an “energy drain” in your family? Things that used to be routine and normal are now burdensome?
- Family members tend to have extreme emotional reactions. Do members of your family exhibit excessive anger, fear, sadness, depression or other emotional reactions?
- There is a significant breakdown in communication between family members. Do you find it harder to communicate than usual? Are you experiencing the “silent treatment” more often than usual?
- Family members are withdrawing from family life. Is there a new pattern of one or more family members going into seclusion?
- There are symptoms of violence or the threat of violence to oneself or other family members. Beyond normal “horseplay,” do you feel that violence is a problem? Is there a behavior that would be considered “assault” if it weren’t between family members?
- Family members express feelings of helplessness or hopelessness. Do you feel that you have reached the end of your rope? Is coping with the stresses just too much to bear? Do you wonder if your family will ever recover?
- There have been changes in children’s behavior at home or at school. Are grades taking a nosedive? What about attendance problems or disruptive behavior at school? Is one of the children out of control at home?
- The family has had a traumatic experience and members are having a hard time coping. Has there been a death in the family? A divorce or separation? An affair discovered? Is the family having difficulty adjusting to the new reality?
- Family members have substance abuse problems. Are there challenges with alcohol or drug use? Is there a family member with an eating disorder?
- Other Considerations
Once you decide the time is right for family counseling, families have the daunting task of finding and selecting the right therapist for them.
Everyone feels low from time to time, so it’s not always easy to know when it is part-and-parcel of daily life, and when it’s time to seek help. In most cases, it is short-term and self-correcting, but for a significant minority, this is not the
case. For those individuals, it is important to seek treatment just as you would any other health condition. Here we discuss six warning signs which, together, might indicate that it’s time to seek professional help.