Family Conflict and Therapy: How Does it Work?
Fight club! Does your family feel like a warzone? Do you feel that your family is into an argument or a fight half the time? Don’t be surprised. Conflict is part and parcel of being a family. Remember, a family is made up of different people. Yes, they are related by blood (and love), but sometimes they come with different personalities, beliefs and opinions. And these differences may sometimes chafe another member of the family.
Conflicts within the family are normal, even healthy, up to a certain point. However, conflicts may escalate to the point where other family members are affected. The conflicts have a negative impact not just on the relationship but on the family’s wellbeing, happiness, and day to day functioning. There may be a need for family members to go into Utah family therapy in order for each member to know how to communicate and resolve conflicts in an effective and healthy manner.
Different kinds of conflict
There are different kinds of conflict – conflict between the husband and wife, between a parent and a child and between siblings. Spouses may have conflict due to money matters, how the kids are to be disciplined, how to deal with in laws and so on. Parents may have conflict with a child as the child tries to test limits and assert a certain level of independence. Siblings may fight due to conflicts about personal space and respect for one’s property and privacy.
Other sources of family conflicts include substance abuse, a child playing the truant at school or a child’s rebellious behavior. Or, the family may be undergoing some stress or grief caused by transferring from one place to another, a breadwinner losing his or her job or the death of a loved one.
These conflicts and issues may affect one or more family members – resulting in higher levels of stress that in turn result in changes in sleeping patterns and eating habits. It may even produce physical symptoms such as stomachaches or headaches.
In an effort to ensure that a family stays strong in the midst of conflict, the family can create guidelines on how they will deal with conflict. It is important to encourage open communications but this should be balanced with mutual respect. Here are some guidelines that can provide helpful:
- Have regular family meetings. Provide a venue where family members can openly communicate. This will actually prevent plenty of conflicts in that potential arguments are headed off and resolved before they become a full blown conflict. Communicating also creates a deeper understanding for other family members, their feelings and reasoning and how these affect their actions.
- Calm down. A blow-up from one family member may negatively affect the rest of the family. When you feel yourself getting emotionally worked up, take a moment to calm yourself down. You may have to leave the room or take a short breather. This will help put you in the proper frame of mind. When one is emotionally charged, it can hamper the way you can objectively look at things with the view of resolving them.
- Focus on the issue at hand. Discuss the issue that caused the conflict. However, avoid the temptation of making “you” statements (i.e. You never listen to me. You are doing this just to irritate me.) Instead, go and identify the core problem so that you can start discussing ways on how to deal with it.
- Choose which battles to fight. Family situations are often complex. There will be trivial issues and large ones that can be potential sources of conflict. Choose which battle to fight. Sometimes, when you solve the bigger issue, it will trickle down to solving other smaller issues. Relationships are about give and take as well. Don’t expect other members of the family to agree with each other on all issues – agree to disagree and respect each other’s opinions. Learn to meet halfway.
- Come up with and discuss solutions. Going into family counseling may help you be better at exploring solutions for a problem. Discuss these solutions with the family so that they can evaluate and help with making the final decision. Some solutions may require changes – evaluate a chosen solution over a period of time to see if it is the right solution for the issue at hand.
Going for family counseling will help in resolving family conflict. An experienced and well-trained family therapist can help the family recognize how each one communicates, how to understand a situation and deal with the problem in the most effective way. With the help of a well-trained and experienced family therapist in Utah, families can learn to find their way out of conflict and build a stronger bond with each other.
When you are in the Provo, Utah area, feel free to drop by Dr. Triston Morgan’s family and Provo marriage therapy practice. Dr. Morgan holds a Ph. D in marriage and family therapy. Ever since he started his practice in Utah, he has helped a considerable number of couples and families deal with conflict in a positive and non-confrontational way.