|Michelle De Faria is doing her placement at Eating Disorders of York Region.|
Michelle De Faria (above) studied in the postgraduate Addictions and Mental Health program at Durham College and is completing her placement at Eating Disorders of York Region.
Until August 10, she will routinely answer different questions pertaining to family dynamics (in other words, how a family works) in relation to mental health.
Today, Michelle talks about what makes a family and family therapy.
Question: What makes a family?
Answer: The textbook definition of a family is two or more people involved in an important relationship.
In laymen’s terms, a family is a team or a unit of support and love. They provide guidance. This group of people could be anyone, from a team to a group of friends to coworkers to classmates. A family is anyone you find comfort with, and isn’t limited to relatives or people on your family tree.
Question: What is family therapy?
Answer: Family therapy is professional guidance to help solve family struggles. A family can meet whenever it is convenient for them to discuss issues that may have come up. It is beneficial for all members of the family to attend and participate.
Eating Disorders of York Region’s Guidance for Family and Friends support group, for example, strives to improve understanding within the family and self-care. This model also emphasizes that family members are not each other’s therapists but instead can benefit from expert guidance (even if all family members are not present). This group is led by a psychotherapist.
Question: What are the benefits of family therapy?
Answer: Family therapy allows for an objective, outside opinion that invites all issues, emotions and thoughts into a safe space. For example, if a mother and daughter are in a dispute, but the daughter feels her mother is misunderstanding the root of the problem, family therapy could allow for an objective voice to see the dispute in a new light, perhaps giving a new perspective to both parties.
In family therapy, groups work as a team towards a specific goal. Using the earlier example, the goal for the mother and daughter could be to understand why both parties are upset and to find a compromise and/or a solution.
Family therapy also resets the various roles in a family (parent, sibling, child, etc.) to reestablish boundaries and rules. If the daughter in the example used prior is acting more as a parent than the mother is, then the therapy can attempt to reestablish roles.
Question: How can a family be replenished?
Answer: As the family grows together, schedules change and lives get busy. It is important to still spend time together, even when there is limited time. Here are some fun activities a family can do together:
- Family vacations (even weekend trips are enjoyable)
- Family dinners (fewer and fewer families spend dinner together. Dinner may be the best time to ask about someone’s day)
- Family outings (day or night trips)
- Preparing meals together
- Weekly recreational activities (walks, board games, movie nights, etc.)