We provide family therapy in the city of Vaughan of the Greater Toronto Area.
Family therapy is provided by an experienced Registered Marriage & Family Therapist who received his graduate degree in marriage & family therapy and has been specializing in working with couples and families for more than 10 years. He is a husband and a father and therefore understands not only the clinical approach to family therapy but also family life itself.
Common Questions About Family Therapy
Family therapy or family counselling is a type of psychotherapy or counselling where either the whole family or the various subunits of the family meet with a family therapist to process issues and misunderstandings. A family may consist of biological parents and children or a combination of biological parents as well as stepparents and stepchildren in blended families.
Common family subunits that initially present to family therapy are: one of the parents and a child or both parents and a child. Less common subunits seen in family counselling are two siblings, or one parent and two children. It does happen though.
Occasionally, a couple may want to expand their marriage counselling and invite the parents from one side or the other to join them in family therapy. This is typically done after the couple has resolved most of their concerns but feel stuck because of the ongoing issues with in-laws.
There is a wide range of problems presented during family therapy. Some common ones include:
- A family struggling with problematic behaviour of one family member
- Parents concerned about their child’s behaviour
- Issues of co-parenting in blended families or stepfamilies
- An adult child trying to resolve their relationship with one of the parents
- A parent trying to resolve their relationship with an adult child
- Parents concerned about sibling rivalry
- Family members concerned about an addiction of someone in the family
- Issues with personal boundaries are also quite common in families
A typical goal of family therapy is to find solutions to the issues that the family cannot resolve using internal resources. The therapist needs to be skilled at listening to all present family members without siding with one or the other. Basically, the family therapist needs to be impartial.
One important goal of family therapy is for all members of the family to feel that they have not lost in the process. Everyone needs to feel that the process was fair towards them and their interests.
- Resolution of crises and stressful interactions
- Calmer home environment through reduced arguments
- Family members better understanding each other
- Restored feeling of closeness to loved family members
- Understanding, empathy and closeness in blended families
During family therapy it is important to meet with everyone who is involved in the issue. Sometimes it is the whole family. Sometimes it is the parents and one of the children. Sometimes it is one parent and one child.
It is not uncommon to alternate meetings between the whole family and certain subunits of the family. The parents may come for a separate session in order to express their perspective without worrying about hurting the child’s feelings. The child may have a separate session in order to feel emotionally safer without the parents in the room. It is the job of the family therapist to find a common ground between the parents and the children. Once the therapist identifies that common ground it is much easier to have the whole family in one room and help the members clarify misunderstandings and re-connect with each other.
It is a complex question with multiple factors interacting to create a particular answer for your specific situation. In general, there are some key differences between parenting biological children and stepchildren. The answer depends on the child’s age, the number of years you have been a part of the blended family together, your current relationship with the stepchild as well as your relationship with the biological parent.
The most common issue we see is that the stepparent is trying to approach their stepchild as if it was their biological child. Even though it may seem intuitive and fair, in practice it often results in misunderstandings of good intentions, disconnections and outright fights and ruptures. Both the parent and the child are left with emotional wounds that do not simply heal with time but tend to get worse unless the stepparent and the biological parent learn the tools to approach the child differently. From our experience, the tools make all the difference.
We help parents in blended families examine their unique situation and find a way that works for both of them and for the children.