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Ten Reasons to Focus on Family Therapy, Not Just Individual Therapy, After Trauma


Ten Reasons to Focus on Family Therapy, Not Just Individual Therapy, After Trauma

1. “Put on your oxygen mask first before you attempt to help your children with theirs.” This is a great analogy for how to be most effective when parenting a child who has experienced trauma. It is critical to have mechanisms in place for your own self-care in order for you to be the best parent that you can be.

2. Family Therapy takes the pressure off the child. When the entire family seeks support together, the child is no longer in the position of feeling at fault or “the cause of problem”.

3. Even though they may not have been present at the same event, the family members of a child who survived a violent event also experience their own form of trauma as a result of the shock and fear that the child’s exposure to the event will instigate. For example, in many cases, parents are unsure-for minutes or even hours-if the child will survive. This experience represents its own traumatic event for the parent, separate and apart from the child’s experience.

4. Your family dynamic will likely change after a traumatic event. Trauma disrupts the entire family, not just the individual who had first-hand experience of the trauma.

5. A great number of parents have experienced their own traumas in the past. Often events, even if they were once considered “addressed”, can resurface as a result of the new traumatic event.

6. The responsibility of parenting a child post-trauma is daunting. Finding support through Family Therapy can help relieve the burden. A person who is trained to support families who have experienced trauma can help the family find solutions, resources, and support, and can take part of the burden off the parent(s).

7. Siblings are often conflicted in the cases in which only one child in the family was exposed to a specific trauma. The sibling might feel guilty for asking for help, or might feel left out or forgotten. Family Therapy can provide an environment for these children to express their concerns, whereas individual therapy would not.

8. No individual exists in a vacuum. Children need their family to be a strong, supportive, and cohesive influence, especially after trauma. Family Therapy can help ensure that the family is functioning as effectively as possible.

9. Parents may find that their relationship changes as they focus on a child who has experienced trauma. As the parent-child relationship intensifies, the couple relationship can often be strained. Family Therapy provides a space for couples to manage their ability to co-parent more effectively, whether they are still a couple or they are separated or divorced while co-parenting.

10. Being in therapy with your child provides the ideal role model. They can see how you work to resolve your own issues and that sets the example for your children to embrace the process and effectively work towards solutions with you.