Is Your Family Struggling to Communicate and Connect?
Are there events, situations or needs occurring within your family system that are creating uncomfortable issues and impacting your ability to communicate and connect as a family? Does it seem like one or all of your children (and perhaps your partner, too) aren’t listening, provoke arguments, or withdraw and shut down? Are you struggling to help your family work through unresolved conflicts – past or present – and feel that your attempts only create more friction and make you feel like you’re walking on increasingly more delicate eggshells? Are you feeling anxious, sad or so frustrated that you sometimes feel like giving up? Are you questioning your ability to parent and wish you had better tools and a workable strategy to help your family communicate with more ease and feel more calm and connected?
Sometimes families – even ones that once communicated and functioned in ways that felt good for the whole system – can experience periods of time when communication becomes stunted, severed or volatile. Children can feel unseen or misunderstood. Teenagers can feel that their parents overreact or don’t understand them. In addition, the connection between parents can become stressed – making one or both partners feel like they are no longer part of a unified team. Losses, transitions, illnesses, mental health issues, addictions, and even new developmental stages for children can cause breakdowns in communication and disrupt relationships within the family. And, sometimes in the throws of chaos and confusion that navigating these challenging situations can create, you may not even realize that communication within your family is suffering. It’s oftentimes not until later – until life gets back on track – that you realize that your family is no longer communicating with each other in loving and comfortable ways.
Communication Breakdowns In Families Are Common
Life continuously throws us twists and turns. And, challenging situations can create painful feelings, uncertainties and disconnections that can negatively impact the communication dynamic of even the strongest and most connected families. As family members try to adjust to new or uncomfortable feelings or transitions, it’s not uncommon for communication and connections to breakdown and all members of the family to struggle. While some families may find a way to work through breakdowns and improve communication, most can use a little help. Thankfully, experience shows us that therapy can be very effective in helping families identify and address communication breakdowns, destructive behaviors and patterns, and recreate a family and communication systems that promotes wellbeing and family unity.
Family Therapy Can Help Your Family Better Communicate and Connect
Therapy offers a safe, neutral environment where all members of your family can talk about how they have been impacted by events that have happened within your home. In sessions and throughout the therapy experience, your family can learn how to share, really listen and talk through painful issues and feelings.
A BPS family therapist with decades of experience in counseling for family communication issues can help you and your family identify and address the negative patterns and behaviors that are no longer working within your home. In session, your therapist can – in the moment – interrupt at the onset of dysfunctional communication patterns so your family can begin to create a deeper awareness of what’s not working and try communicating in different ways. With support and guidance, your family can learn better, more productive and practical communication skills and develop a communication system that meets your family’s specific needs and celebrates your unique dynamic. In time, with help and by learning how to openly share and listen, a greater understanding of each other can begin and validation of other family member’s experiences can occur – which are the building blocks of effective communication.
The relationships within your family and your family system as a whole can be rebuilt to function with more clarity and ease. In therapy, you have the opportunity to break old patterns, change what is not working and create a new family system that feels and functions well for everyone. It is possible to create a stronger familial connection, communicate with more honesty and ease, and navigate breakdowns and conflicts in more understanding and supportive ways.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I think therapy could be helpful, but I’m concerned about costs.
This is your family’s lives and wellbeing. Addressing communication issues now can lead to both immediate and long-term results. It can also prevent difficulties within your family from getting worse. Therapy is an investment in building confidence, creating balance and developing a workable structure for your family. It can help your family learn how to communicate in healthier ways and lead to increased connection within you family now and in the future. Therapy is also an investment that can lead to more security, consistency and wellbeing for your children.
Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with family communication issues or who they or their family couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct a referral assessment and match your family with a therapist who is trained and experienced to help with communication issues and whose personality is a good match for your family. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to yourself and your family may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine everyone in your family feeling and functioning better now and in the long-term on a regular basis and ask yourself what that’s worth.
If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find other lower cost resources in the community.
I’m afraid that therapy will shine a light on all that’s not working within our family and make everything even worse.
You may be right. Sometimes facing challenges and feeling worse is necessary before communication can get better. But, it can get better. And, the issues within your family are unlikely to go away if ignored. In fact, chances are that communication breakdowns will worsen if they remain unaddressed. Conflicts can increase. Distance between family members can deepen. And, negative behaviors and patterns can become entrenched and spill over into how your children function not only at home, but also in school and in their interactions with others.
Alternatively, a BPS family therapist can help, guide and support you as walk through the fire and get to the other side. By choosing therapy, you can not only improve your family’s communication dynamic, but also demonstrate to your children that there are other and better ways of relating with people both within your family and outside of it.
I think that my family needs therapy, but I don’t think that the rest of my family will agree to it.
You can start with those family members who are willing to try therapy and want to communicate better – even if it’s just you. Ultimately, we are only able to change ourselves – our own patterns and behaviors. But, by learning and applying new communication strategies, you can shift the communication dynamic within your family. Your BPS family therapist can help you improve how you interact and respond within your family, develop an awareness of your personal triggers and learn how to take the behaviors of other family members less personally. And oftentimes, when one or two family members take the first step and make positive changes, the willingness of others within families to participate and take positive risks grows, too.
We encourage you to schedule a referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director, Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your family’s specific issues are and ensure a good match between you, your family and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match your family with a therapist who has expertise working with families and communication issues.
BPS therapist Harmony Barrett Isaacs, LPC helped create the content for this page. Harmony is a licensed professional counselor whose practice has a strong focus on parenting coaching and helping adolescents navigate many of the tough issues that can arise during the teenage years. She has been working with families struggling with communication issues since 2005.