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How Child & Family Therapy Works

7 Common solutions for family challenges you may have tried but haven’t worked for you and why


Click the tabs on the left to read about each solution

While reading parenting books can offer excellent resources and tools, they cannot offer support tailored to your family’s specific needs. An important missing component is an assessment of what the challenges are and how they interact with your specific family. Because families are dynamic, multifaceted systems, there’s often significant interaction/reaction within the family on many levels. These interactions are unique to your family and impossible for a parenting book to address effectively and accurately.

Many times parents actually feel a sense of failure when the parenting approach or method in a book doesn’t transform their family challenges. Often books make compelling arguments for why their approach will solve your challenges. You may feel as though you have botched the approach. This is not the case. It simply means an accurate assessment of your family’s situation is lacking.

When families are exhausted, they sometimes resort to a strict rewards and punishments approach to parenting. Often this is to extinguish an annoying or undesirable behavior. This often is not helpful because it disregards family relationships and family dynamics.

A black and white rewards and punishment approach can be very painful for both parents and children. It can damage trust and connection. It is important for parents to model healthy boundaries within the family while also tending to their relationship with their child.

When a family has a struggle, it’s sometimes difficult to know if it’s a “normal” challenge. Families will often ignore a conflict or challenge for a while hoping it will resolve as their children grow or the family’s context challenges in some way.

And sometimes it will resolve!  And sometimes it won’t.

When it doesn’t, it’s important to acknowledge the challenge and take some action to address it. It’s important to seek support for your family challenge when you feel it dissolving connection and joyful times within the family. It’s impossible to have everything be pretty all the time in a dynamic family where everyone is changing and trying to get their needs met. Yet, when a challenge is around for a while and continues to impact negatively, it’s important to address it head on.

While it is important that families address challenges as they appear (not ignoring them), it’s also easy to get caught in a pattern of fighting or getting angry. Often parents sadly relay that the only way they can get their children to listen to them is to yell at them angrily.

This is exhausting for parents and children alike. And it eventually erodes connectedness over time.

While the most intentional and resourced parents yell and get angry from time to time, it’s important to get support when it feels like that’s the only tool you have in your toolbox.

Perpetual fighting within a family can bring additional challenges as well such as anxiety or depression. Fighting and just yelling at children (or other adults) can also leave your children with deficits in conflict resolution and communication their needs. It can also bring a sense of hopelessness and distance for all involved because it feels as though any interaction will bring conflict.

There is an abundance of online resources for parents these days. Many parents spend hours researching about their children or family dynamics. This can benefit parents by reducing shame and feeling empathy as well as knowing that other parents struggle similarly.

However, this strategy will not solve your challenges because it won’t offer a solution tailored to your specific family. Change within your family will be most effective if all or most people involved are working toward a common goal.

Researching online is a solo task. Family change is a family task.

While individual therapy is often helpful and can create much change for a family, it is not always a sure method of making things better for your family.

When children are involved, especially children under age 10, family therapy is the most appropriate method of therapy to address family related challenges.

Families are functioning systems. This is a lot like a car engine, where individuals are acting and reacting together all the time to make things happen. When each part of the engine is greased and functioning well, the engine will function well overall. When the engine isn’t functioning well, it’s important to assess and support all the parts of the engine to ensure the most effective tune up. It wouldn’t work very well to visit your car mechanic with only part of your car engine. They need to look at the big picture of the engine in it’s entirety.

When things are rough within a family, one or both parents may start to avoid spending time as a family. While this often brings relief in the short term, it actually can contribute to challenges in the long run.

When a family is avoiding conflict, they are also avoiding joy and connection.

If you are experiencing conflict or challenge within your family and are avoiding your family to reduce the stress, there are other approaches you can take.

What does work?

What does work?

Family therapy works.

A therapist trained specifically in family therapy is able to assess how to most efficiently support your family. Family therapy is a process in which most or all family members join to discuss or address a family challenge.

Sometimes simply the act of talking openly about a family challenge brings profound change. Sometimes families need some specific support to ensure the family can successful talk about a challenge.

A family therapist will be able to recognize how a family may need some support to be able to communicate effectively. Communication with a facilitator works much better than stumbling through emotional or complicated terrain.

A family therapist will be able to assess whether or not additional supports may be useful for individual members of the family, such as individual therapy, physical therapy, or improved communication skills. A family therapist will assess for and support healthy family relationships as well.

It is very common for families to get stuck in certain developmental stages and then need some support for how to adjust to their current circumstances. As families move through transitions such as divorce or grief, having a knowledgeable and supportive advocate is invaluable. Families that have support through such transitions move through them easily and quickly, toward settling into their new routine.  This greatly benefits all, especially children.

One aspect of family therapy that can be helpful is the therapist’s ability to assess whether family member’s reactions to transitions are typical or not. If not typical, the therapist can support the individual to move toward less stressful experience.

In treating children, family therapy brings the most change.  Although it often appears that children and adolescents hold a tremendous amount of power in your family, they should not lead the change within a family.  Therefore, if you are seeking therapy for your child or teen, seeking a family therapy is much more effective.  This will bring the most sustained efficient change for not only your child or teen but for the family overall.

Why who we are and our unique approach will work for you

Our unique approach

Our skilled therapists have been trained and practiced in family-systems.  A family-systems approach seeks to avoid blaming or diagnosing any one person because problems are seen as the result of the relationship dynamics within the system.

We also have chosen our experienced therapists with great care.  The therapists at Family Ties Counseling Center know a lot about how to be in relationship.  Just as important as their education and training is their capacity to be authentic, compassionate and insightful.

Our Values

Collectively, we have over several decades of experience working extensively with adults and children, families and couples.

We have clearly observed some common values held by those who were helped the most.

If you connect with our values listed below, then you will most likely benefit from our approach at Family Ties Counseling Center:

  1. Inclusion
  2. Truth
  3. Prioritizing Closeness & Connection
  4. Open to Change
  5. Good Enough Parenting
  6. Willing to Get Help
  7. Strive for Love & Respect

Click here to read more about our values.

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