Family Therapy...a Flexible Approach
Structured Family Therapy with Children
Coming up with family therapy activities with families of younger children can be a lot of fun. Sometimes families just need to feel safe in the therapy room and begin to connect. An example of a warm up activity for a family with younger children may be the "family continuation drawing". In this activity, one family member starts to draw a picture...then another member adds to it and another...until everyone has added to the picture a number of times. When the family feels like it is complete, they tell a story about the picture. This activity gets family members working together, but also helps them warm up to the idea of a therapeutic activity. This is a great activity to build upon for more challenging talks and activities.
Another more progressive game is the "carnival cups activity" wherein family members all write down questions or comments that they have for one another on slips of paper. These papers are then placed into cups. The cups are all grouped together and family members take turns tossing coins into the cups then reading the retrieved question aloud to the family. This makes talking about difficult topics easier because it is in the form of a game. Often the therapist adds questions to the cups too to help prime the pump.
At the Center, we have therapists with degrees in Marriage and Family Therapy. We believe that family counseling can be the most flexible of all therapy approaches. Sometimes it is the entire family all together, sometimes dyads of two family members together...other times it is just parents. We look at the needs of the family and help you get to where you want to be. We have been told that there is a certain safety to a therapy room. A safety that helps families finally talk about what is really troubling them. What a gift to have a place designated to not only talk about what is not working in a relationship, but to also navigate to a place that does.
There is a similarity between family therapy with older family members and couples therapy. With both modalities, the therapist is looking for what the family is really fighting about. Often it sounds like curfew and chores, but is really about something much deeper. Helping families get to this point and helping them learn to communicate at a level that matters can be priceless.
Depending on the age of your family members, family therapy can be just a place to talk and communicate, or it can be a place to do therapuetic activities together. Families with younger elementary aged children may be asked to participate with their child in a therapuetic craft, or other activity that makes the session more playful and less scary.
Sometimes a traditional activity based family session is not the right fit. Maybe the child is too disruptive, has developmental challenges or becomes overstimulated rather quickly. In situations as these, Theraplay, a structured, playful family therapy approach, may be recommended. Read about Theraplay here.
What does family therapy look like when it is designed for parents alone? We respect the role of parents and understand that at times this job can be tough. When parents are struggling with the discipline of children, discussing a plan of action can be helpful. Here at the Center, we have experience helping parents find a behavior management system that not only curbs unwanted behaviors, but also helps parents learn to enhance behaviors in their children that they want to see. In order to do this, parents have to be taught the goals of misbehavior. Is it attention? Power and control? Inadequacy? All of these goals are met differently. When parents understand what they are dealing with, they feel more equipped in making a better difference in their child's behaviors. Getting parents to adopt the same philosophy and to work together as a team can be a significant part to participating in family therapy as parents. Helping parents identify what behaviors they want to enhance in their children can be a rewarding process as well.
Our Own Blog Articles That Look at Different Parenting Related Topics:
Behavior Modification Part 1
Behavior Modification Part 2
Try a Sleepy Time Rotuine