When a child suffers from a mental health disorder, whether anxiety, depression or something else, therapy is often recommended. Early intervention is key, but therapy shouldn’t happen in a vacuum. Many experts recommend the whole family get involved. After all, the mental illness of a child impacts the functioning of the entire family unit. When treatment focuses solely on the struggles of the child, there is no consideration of the whole family dynamic, points out Psychology Today.
Involving multiple siblings, caregivers, extended family members, and anyone else who lives in the same household as the child all contribute to the general functionality of the unit. This can encompass even multiple households, such as in the case of split custody between mother and father. Let’s go over three main reasons why families should be included in child therapy.
1. Development in the Family Context
Most people would agree that important environmental influences on children in the early years come from within the family. Many therapists, then, say these factors should take center stage when it comes to treatment across the lifespan. While traditional guiding frame works for most mental health services have historically been focused on the individual, more evidence is emerging that suggests the need for an expansion of that model of care to include family members and caregivers.
2. Mental Health Problems Run in the Family
It’s unlikely that one child’s mental health problems happen in a bubble. A scientific field referred to as “behavioral genetics” bolsters what many people have observed for decades: that mental health disorders are genetic. Molecular genetics provides additional support backed by increased understanding of DNA. Bottom line is, people are more susceptible to stressors that exist in the family unit which can in turn trigger mental health symptoms.
3. Once-a-Week Therapy is Not Enough
Most child therapy sessions last just one hour a week at most, hardly enough time for the therapist alone to cover all the issues at hand. With 168 hours in a week, minus one for therapy, this leaves 167 other hours throughout the week in which families co-exist, co-habit, and co-influence. When it comes to kids (and adults for that matter), they have to have a safe space at home where they can practice and apply the strategies and techniques they learn in therapy. This takes a large amount of caregiver support.
Contact Comprehensive MedPsych
If you suspect your child needs therapy, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at one of our many locations. We place a great emphasis on the importance of the family in child therapy sessions. Call us today for an appointment.