How To Use Family Counseling To Make Lasting Change

Starting family counseling may be on your mind. You know something needs to change. You are struggling to find your way in the midst of all the family upsets. Trying different things on a regular basis with your distant teenager or your child who never seems to want to do things you say. Maybe your marriage is a bit rocky and you struggle to coparent in ways that feel good to you. Staying consistent on any plan to make things better feels incredibly difficult. Whenever you try you are pulled into feelings of frustration and overwhelm with someone or something that happens. 

Unfortunately when we continue to cycle in family turmoil and frustration we can end up in a place of hopelessness.  When we continue to stay stuck in this place we experience more and more disconnect within the family. As a result we start to feel as though we are in a cycle that is hard to get out of. 

When things get to a difficult spot for your family many people consider child therapy or teen therapy depending on the circumstances. It is important to consider how essential that the therapy has a component for the whole family. Family counseling is needed since this is what helps make much deeper rooted change in the system itself. If the therapy is geared much more so for the child or teen without a parent and family component than you won’t know how to help. Also, many times we all need support and room for change and growth. 

woman holding child while smiling

Family counseling is most helpful when you are ready to make real and lasting changes for your family. It can truly help you understand and apply different ways of engaging, reacting, and hearing one another. 

A big problem that we all face is that we tend to continue to do what we know and are used to doing. So when your partner does something that upsets you, you likely have your typical way of interpreting it and responding. Maybe you withdraw and ignore. Or maybe you yell and possibly say something you shouldn’t. The reality is that it becomes pretty easy to continue to respond in the same ways. Deep down we know they are not helpful. But it’s so hard to go about things differently. 

When you do decide to start family counseling it’s important to think of what can I do so that I am making some real lasting change for myself and my family. The most important thing is to allow yourself to get out of your comfort zone. Staying in your comfort zone won’t allow you to create that deeper change you truly want. Let’s dive a bit deeper. 

Using family counseling to make lasting change-> How to One: Come with an open mind. 

Many times people start therapy with the idea that they are open. But are you open to looking truly within yourself? It’s not about being open that the other person changes so things get better. We have to allow for change to start within ourselves first and foremost more than changing anyone else. Pointing fingers at whos to blame will likely not lead to the lasting change you are seeking in your family. And I could take a wild guess that if there is blame in therapy then it is likely you are doing the same thing that you do at home. 

Change doesn’t happen when we do the same things over and over again. Change happens when we commit to doing things differently.

Not a one time change but a commitment to working on changing things in the moment when it feels most difficult. So it’s important to remember to come with an open mind to the possibility of hearing something hard and allowing room within yourself to grow. If you start off closed to the possibility of looking within or taking responsibility then things will likely not change for your family.

In family therapy at Simi Psychological Group we help you get out of your comfort zone and open up to alternative ways of thinking. We help you identify when you are being closed and work with you on opening up your mind and awareness of how you can make things better. Ultimately when you are able to make things better for yourself you feel much more in control. 

family holding hands in front of a sunset

How to Two: Break down your walls. 

It may not be something that you are aware of but most of us have walls up at least some of the time. We have these as a means of protecting ourselves. Protecting ourselves from the inner turmoil that can happen when we are uncomfortable or perceive something to be scary. When you are in family counseling with those walls up it’s hard to allow for movement in your life.

The therapist will likely work with you on digging deeper and getting those walls down. However if you can keep this mind this will help you big time in the process. When we are able to live life with our walls down (trust yourself to deal with what is thrown at you) then there is infinite room for growth. 

Our team of therapists and psychologists in Simi Valley, Ca work with you to break down your walls so you can ultimately have much more control over your future. Yes, breaking down your walls will give you more control. Because you learn to trust yourself in dealing with what is being thrown your way. Whether that is connected to something you do that is hurtful to others or how your anxiety is attributing to your child’s anxiety. 

Using family counseling to make lasting change-> How to Three: Be vulnerable. 

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable works well with the previous point with letting your walls down. When we put down our walls we are better able to be vulnerable. There are many above the surface things that come up for us in terms of what upsets us. Or what upsets others. But the reality is there is so much internally that we are REALLY feeling that goes beyond the surface level stuff. 

Maybe it looks like this:

Your wife tells you don’t help out enough with the kids. You are then maybe frustrated because she doesn’t get how much you actually do. And the exchange becomes about who does more. But what is it really about? What are the underlying feelings happening? For your wife it may be “I’m lonely” and for you maybe “I never feel good enough.” But if we just stay with the surface level content we are missing the real rooted stuff underneath. 

During family counseling in Simi Valley we work with you at getting real and vulnerable. We help you not just stay on the surface of it all but go deep. It is only through letting go of all the content and surface level stuff that allows you to see the patterns and make the changes that you want for your family. 

child pointing at woman from across a creek

How to Four: Try to hear the other person before responding. Take it in. 

Too many times it becomes our tendency to respond or react without actually hearing the other person. This has to do with those walls that we have up. We already have responses and defenses ready to go when someone says something that is hard or we think we don’t agree with. But what if you approached it differently? 

What if you allowed yourself to say “this can be an opportunity to actually learn about myself” or “maybe there is something I am missing here.”

What if you leaned into the notion that when you hear something hard that you are given an opportunity. And opportunity to grow in some way. The instinct may be I don’t need to grow. But even allowing yourself to truly hear someone is growing. And when you do this people around you will be much more inclined to truly hear you in return. 

All in all considering family counseling can help your family shift from being stuck to moving in a more connected way. Whether you are concerned about your child or teen or your relationship with one another, family counseling is a strong way to help the whole family. When you allow yourself to have an open mind, break down your walls, be vulnerable, and hear the other person you can truly use family counseling to make lasting change. 

Written by,

Donna Novak, Psy.D. 

psychologist Simi Valley ca

I specialize in working with anxiety and in helping adolescents and their families, adults, and couples better their relationships and find direction. Rather than shy away from the tough stuff in life, I prefer to face it head-on, together. I believe that challenges are part of being human and that everyone has the potential to become their own life’s navigator. So they never have to feel out of control or at the mercy of their circumstances. Learn more

Therapy services offered at Simi Psychological Group 

Now Offering Online Therapy in Los Angeles and Online Counseling Ventura County 

At our therapy practice in Simi Valley, Ca we offer Child therapy and family counseling, Teen therapy, Anxiety Treatment, Depression Therapy, Marriage Counseling, and Neuropsychological Testing