Breaking The Cycle Of Unease And Upheaval: How Family Therapy May Prevent Your Children From Inheriting Your Anxiety

While you may want your kids to have your gorgeous hair, genius IQ or artistic talents, you don't want them to inherit your anxiety. Unfortunately, when a parent suffers with anxiety, the whole family is adversely affected, but worse, still, the kids can grow up to eventually have their own permanent problems with this all too common affliction, which affects some 40 million people in the United States. 

Anxiety may be something you're learning to deal with; however, it doesn't have to be something you automatically give to your kids. Here's how therapy can help you change the course, for everyone's sake.

Therapy Helps You Change

Your habits, including how you handle stress and cope with life in general, are observed, and consequently, mimicked by your children. Counseling can help you change, by teaching new coping methods and that, in turn, will set a better example for your kids. If you're struggling to deal with your own stress, it's difficult, if not impossible, for your children to do any better.

Therapy Teaches Children To Distinguish Between Real and Non-Real Threats

Anxiety is often based in fear and for kids, that fear may or may not be based on something real. When non-real threats rule your child's world, they feel anxious all the time, but to make matters worse, they don't learn the difference between actual threats and the other things that cause them worry. Therapy, especially cognitive therapy in a family setting, guides kids to understand the difference, put non-real threats in their place and how to face real difficulties, head-on.

Therapy Provides Cohesion To Families

Issues with anxiety can break families apart, especially if one or more members isn't coping effectively with stress and anxiety. When you face the problem as a family unit, you're brought together in a united front. Each member, whether they deal with anxiety or not, learns more about the condition, how it's dealt with and not to take things too personally, when the anxiety effects them. 

Your Family Has A Variety Of Options Available

Therapy isn't always one person sitting on the proverbial couch, with a doctor-type person taking notes as they listen. Especially when dealing with families and children, therapy is customized to the family as a whole and to individuals, as needed. Communication Therapy, for example, may help you and your spouse learn to talk to each other more openly; Transgenerational Therapy, on the other hand, allows a therapist a window into the family dynamics from one generation to the next, hopefully intervening in the passing down of anxious ways, while Structural Therapy aims to guide your whole family towards changing the unhealthy patterns which may have developed to cope with the anxiety within. 

Talking About Anxiety And Fears Helps To Alleviate Them

While different methods of counseling and therapy address different conditions, talking in general is nearly always good, for everyone involved. Especially if the anxiety and stress in your home builds, being able to discuss how they feel, what they see and what they may fear happening next all brings emotions out into the open, where they can be effectively handled. Therapy gets children in the habit of talking about things, too, rather than hiding them, being ashamed of them or otherwise not dealing with them.

Whatever the challenges your family is facing as a result of parental anxiety, there are effective ways of dealing with them. Every member benefits when a problem is faced together and where anxiety is concerned, your efforts now may very well prevent one or more of your children from having a future diagnosis of a similar problem. Anxiety is, indeed, hereditary, but fortunately, it doesn't have to be, if you work at it.

For more information, reach out to a professional that offers marriage and family therapy services.