Family Issues

Learn how to recognize & overcome the problems faced by your family
Families come to therapy for a myriad of problems. These include parenting help, couples dysfunction, substance abuse, mental illness, technology misuse, violence and loss/grief issues. Many more exist and can be addressed successfully by a therapist. Normally an event or incident has taken place and this has motivated the family to seek help to avoid their systemic conflict from increasing.

Often, parents say the children are to be the problem and there is usually relational strife due to these accusations. However, the child that is complained about is not always the underlying problem. Sometimes, the actual issue is a parenting or marital problem that has negatively affected the children. The therapist can determine the actual root of the complaint with the help of the family members.

Parents are not always effective at the difficult responsibility of raising children and may blame the child for their own mistakes or personal issues. Therapy can help parents learn better coping skills and improved reactions to problem behaviors. Children cannot always express their emotions in a healthy manner and will often act out to get attention or to have their other needs met. Couples or marital problems are often the root of parenting difficulties. In therapy, the couple can be educated about their own relational dysfunction and its effect on their children.

Blended families, where there are children from multiple sets of parents, also have their own set of challenges. Step-parents, in addition, can be a source of great stress for children if not accepted well into the new family unit. Resentment and loyalties may lead to acting out behaviors such as violence or school problems. The therapist will work with the family to reorder family dynamics after couples conflict.

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A parent may have a substance abuse problem or untreated mental illness, which of course will trickle down to their children.

A child as well may be facing the same problem or illness and this will be referred out to a specialist. Depression and anxiety also affect children and there may be a need for a medication consultation. Medication must be consented to by the parents and should be discussed in depth with the doctor.

Loss in a family can take a great toll on normal functioning. Family dynamics that normally keep a family together and calm can become unworkable after the loss of a family member. Grief will be addressed and systemic reorganization can be helped greatly in counseling. Patterns of behavior that have existed for many years are thrown into disarray and the individuals can sometimes not adjust to the changed relationships and may have severe grief reactions. Loss can also take the form of a geographic move, financial changes, job loss, new marriage or death of a pet.


Technology’s impact on families and parenting has been dramatic and is constantly changing. It cannot be overstated how much influence it can have on a family. Over-use or misuse of computers, phones, etc., can result in relational, social group and family miscommunication or a total change in normal family dynamics. Parents may have trouble keeping up with Internet apps, websites and social media that their children take for granted and use constantly. Pornography, violence and other inappropriate content can be very disturbing to children and parents must monitor this carefully. Social problems in and out of school can result from social media misuse and friendships can be difficult to maintain. Online gaming is a huge problem and can lead to addiction. Developmental skills and stages and normal brain formation in younger children are at risk from too much technology use.

Violence towards people or property can result from substance use, anger, depression, family conflict or grief, to name a few stressors. Safety of all family members is a prime concern in therapy. Threats of suicide harm to others or homicide should be taken very seriously. The therapist may advise an Emergency Room screening if any of these are voiced.

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