Families are a key resource to youth as they grow and develop. During stressful times and when youth experience difficulties in life, families are an important source of support and guidance. Families can also experience stressful situations, such as divorce, the death of a loved one, or a family member experiencing mental health or addictions difficulty. These types of stressors can affect how families, communicate, problem-solve, and even how family members get along with each other. These difficulties can also affect how individual family members, parents and children, cope and function in their lives at work, at school and with friends.
Sometimes families need help to deal with these difficulties and stressors because they can become overwhelmed or stuck in the problem. Helping professionals, like social workers, psychologists, nurses, and psychiatrists can help with these problems by working with parents and children/youth. This kind of help is usually called family-based counselling or family therapy.
Family therapy and family-based counselling services are used with a range of mental health and addictions difficulties including ADHD, disruptive behaviour problems, anxiety, depression, and eating disorders. Often these services are accessed in combination with one-to-one counselling and/or medication treatment. The focus of family therapy is often to improve the relationships and communication between family members and help increase problem solving. Family therapy can also be helpful to bring family members together in order to gain a better understanding of an issue or problem experienced by one or more family members. Working with a therapist to help increase the coping of family members and/or to help support positive behaviour patterns are other common goals for family-based counselling services.
The IWK offers family therapy. If your family may benefit from family therapy or family-based counselling please discuss this option with your IWK clinician or talk to your family doctor about getting a referral for your family. There are also private clinicians offering family therapy services.