There are many reasons that families attend family therapy. Family therapy is beneficial for those repairing familial relationships, hoping to achieve a sense of togetherness, and achieve a wide range of other goals. Maybe, you’re pursuing a better relationship with your parents or want their support in your recovery from a mental health battle. Perhaps, you want to help another family member who is struggling with mental health. Either way, if your family won’t go to therapy, it can be a painful situation to be in.
Why Won’t My Family Go To Therapy?
Here are some potential reasons why a family or family member may decline family therapy:
- They aren’t ready to face the concern at hand. This isn’t an excuse, and it doesn’t mean that it’s not important for them to get help. It’s absolutely important for people to get help, especially if someone in the family is dealing with a substance use disorder, trouble with anger management, or other similar concerns. That said, someone may very well refuse family therapy if they don’t want to face the situation at hand.
- They fear that blame will be placed on them. This is common for parents and spouses. Some struggle with the notion that they can be a good person if they admit to having done something harmful. Owning up to your mistakes doesn’t mean that you aren’t a good person. In fact, owning up to ways you’ve hurt other people often makes you a better person because it means that you’re facing it and hopefully making attempts to do better. It’s crucial to remember that, while this is a common fear, therapy is not about blame.
- Stigma and shame surrounding mental health support. Despite being evidence-based and life-changing for so many people and families, therapy can be stigmatized at times, and some people don’t have an accurate perception or understanding of therapy. Perhaps, your family is one that has a pattern of emotional suppression, and most people in your family aren’t open to talking about feelings or mental health. This could be due to their own background and upbringing.
Of course, this is by no means an extensive list. No matter the reason for their refusal, taking care of your mental health matters.
How To Move Forward
Family therapy is often short-term. Sharing this fact and other truths about therapy can sometimes make it easier for people to consider the idea. However, if your family won’t go to therapy regardless of the information they receive on the topic, it doesn’t need to halt your own mental health journey. Here are some things you can do:
- Remember that you can only control your own actions – not theirs. If there’s a need for therapy and your family won’t go, it can be incredibly difficult to accept at first. That said, it’s possible to move forward and come to a place where you can support your own well-being and your family’s actions won’t hurt you on such a pervasive level.
- Set boundaries. Setting boundaries can be tough, but it’s necessary. An example of this is that, if you’re an adult with a parent who struggles with anger management, you may set a boundary surrounding that by making a personal rule that you’ll hang up the phone and speak later if they raise their voice.
- Look into inner child work. It’s essential to learn how to nurture your inner child and give them what they need, especially if your emotional needs weren’t met as a kid in any capacity. Sometimes, when our needs are not met, it isn’t intentional. It could be that your family doesn’t talk about emotions or that you have a specific family member who invalidates your feelings. That counts as not having your needs met, and if that’s the case, it’s possible to work to meet your needs now. You deserve to be validated and cared for.
- Spend time with your support system. Often, this will include your friends, a romantic partner, or even a support group. Perhaps, your friends and romantic partner are more open to expressing emotions than your family. As a result, they’re able to lend an ear when you need to vent and support you in what you’re going through with your family. If you’re struggling with mental health or familial issues on a long-term basis, seeing a therapist for individual therapy can be a game-changer.
Find A Therapist
Whether you’re struggling with concerns related to family, parenting, grief, or anything else on your mind, seeing a therapist can help. You can find a therapist by searching the web, asking your doctor for a referral, or signing up for a reputable online therapy platform like BetterHelp. Regardless of how you find a therapist, you deserve to get the support you need.
About the Author
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.