Group Therapy for Families: Learning and Applying Skills to Cope with Anxiety

Anxiety is a more common problem in families than most people realize. In fact, about 50% of children who have a parent with anxiety also develop it, themselves. 

Unfortunately, that’s only half the battle. 

The life experiences family members go through in the home can also contribute to anxiety. If there are a lot of negative experiences or parents with unhealthy anxiety that interferes with life, those “influences” can be passed onto children easily. 

It might start small. Your child might feel physically sick over the idea of getting a bad grade. Or, they might be paralyzed with fear over going back to school and the idea of making friends. 

Whatever the case, group therapy for families can help. Let’s take a closer look at the skills you can learn and apply as a family to cope with anxiety. 

Getting to the Root of the Problem(s)

One of the best things about group therapy is that it strips away some of the “externals” that could be covering up the real root cause of anxiety. Anxiety is often a manageable issue. But, it doesn’t go away on its own. 

In a group setting, family members can talk about their feelings and give a personal history of what they’ve been through. A therapist can use that information to peel back layers and uncover what might be causing anxiety. They can also help everyone determine their “triggers” even if those triggers are seemingly normal and happen daily. 

Learning to Differentiate Feelings from Reality

Anxiety is based on feelings, and no one can deny those feelings. In fact, talking about your anxiety and not receiving validation can make things even worse. A therapist will always acknowledge the way you feel and any fears or worries you’re dealing with. 

But, therapy can also help you to differentiate those feelings from reality. 

The basis of anxiety is irrational fear. So, while those feelings of fear might be real, the “facts” behind them probably are not. Learning the difference is especially important for kids. When children can tell the difference between things that are truly dangerous or harmful and things that are not, they can learn to better manage their feelings of anxiety. 

As an adult, differentiating those things is just as important. You might be fearful of different things than your children, but it will only fuel your anxious thoughts even more if those fears aren’t based in reality. Therapy can help you identify those irrational thoughts and shift your perspective. 

Managing Anxiety Each Day

While group therapy for families can help you to better understand your anxiety and how it affects you, it can also teach you the skills to cope with anxiety each day. 

One of the most important management techniques for kids and adults is to practice self-care. That looks different for everyone, but it should be something each day that focuses on your physical and emotional well-being. It could include exercising, cooking a favorite meal, reading a book, or journaling. For kids, it could include their favorite hobby or spending time with a friend. 

Speaking of exercising, that’s actually another great management technique on its own. Get the whole family involved in daily physical activities, even if it’s a walk around the neighborhood. You might be surprised at how much staying active can keep feelings of anxiety at bay. 

Finally, work as a support system for each other. Group therapy is a great way to identify some of the issues going on with your family and each individual member. When you understand that others are struggling, make a point to be there for them. It’s important to have a support system when you’re dealing with anxiety, especially those in your own family. 

If you’re worried about the impact of anxiety on your family, please read more about group therapy and feel free to contact me. Anxiety doesn’t have to take over the way you live your life or how your children experience their future. 

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