3 Family therapy activities to improve communication

In this guide, we have discussed what are some effective family therapy strategies that you can apply in your own family to build and develop healthy and effective communication skills. 

What is Family therapy?

Family therapy is a treatment process that is designed with the intent to resolve issues that are negatively affecting the functioning of a family. 

In family therapy, individuals’ problems are viewed in the context of the larger unit and the process of helping the family requires understanding the dynamics of the group.

Family therapy employs techniques and exercises from various forms of therapy such as- cognitive therapy, behavior therapy, interpersonal therapy etc- which depends on the type of problems that the family is struggling with. 

It should be noted that in family therapy the term “family” does not necessarily mean blood relatives but also includes people who play a long term supportive role in a person’s life.

The goal of family therapy is to work together as a unit against a common problem that is affecting the psychological health of the family by improving communication, solving problems, understanding family situations, and creating a better healthier home environment.

Family therapy helps to enhance or teach members the skills required for healthy family functioning,such as effective communication and conflict resolution to overcome family problems. 

Why is communication important in families?

Communication within the family is an important part of the relationship between people in any other situation. It allows family members to express their needs, understand the needs of others, set boundaries, and provide the family with the opportunity to solve problems, build empathetic relationships, and grow in love and support. 

The benefits of high-quality communication in a family includes improving the way family members relate to one another and when there is difficulty in basic communication, it results in emotional and psychological problems within the family.

What are Communication activities?

Activities, exercises, and games that can teach parents, children and other family members to communicate more effectively are known as communication activities to be used in family settings. 

In most family settings, adults decide the communication style and social norms. Sometimes, these norms and styles are unhealthy and ineffective which can lead to various functioning problems in the family. 

These communication activities teach family members- young and old- more effective ways of listening to each other, speaking, expressing, and problem solving that allows them to express their needs while also respecting each other’s rights.

Let us look at some activities that improve communication in families.

Family Meetings

Family meetings benefit the family as these get-togethers have the potential for building better communication skills and personal relationships as a family. 

You can your family can schedule regular family meetings every week that can help family members learn how to:

  • Make joint decisions as a family
  • Plan other activities, or future plans together
  • Accept responsibility
  • Show concern for others and empathize
  • Spend some quality time together

Pick one night when your family are all available, free of their responsibilities, and can consistently get together for a family meeting that lasts for an hour, and make sure it’s a must for everyone to attend.

Hints of Anger

This activity will help family members identify signs that indicate they are getting angry and help them regulate their emotions.

Here are the steps for this activity:

Tell family members to think about a time when they were angry and consider how they felt.

Reflect on the following questions”

  • How was your body feeling at that time?
  • What kind of thoughts were going through your head?
  • Was the subjective experience any different from what was observed by others?

Next, have each family member think of a time when they were having a good time and discuss these questions:

  • How did your body feel during this period of time?
  • In which scenario did you feel more comfortable, angry, or happy?

Let each member express what they think of the importance of knowing when you are getting upset and discuss it as a family.

After the activity, discuss these questions as a family:

  • Why is it important to recognize the signs that you are angry?
  • Why is it important to control your anger?
  • What do you feel when you are upset?
  • What are the things to do to manage your anger so it does not hurt your family relationships?

Assertive Communication Worksheet

This worksheet is a great way to help older kids learn about the different kinds of communication and how they can learn how to communicate assertive. 

The worksheet provides the behaviours that are signs of assertive communicators, including:

  • Clearly state needs and wants
  • Eye contact
  • Listens to others without interruption
  • Appropriate speaking volume
  • Steady tone of voice
  • Confident body language

Next, it shares four tips on communicating assertively wgugc include:

  • Self-respect
  • Expressing thoughts and feelings calmly
  • Planning out
  • Saying no.

You can access this worksheet here

Precision Communication

This activity is focused on active listening which is an important part of communication and building better understanding of each other. 

Here are the steps:

  • Set up a maze in your home using furniture
  • Tie string or yarn between the furniture to create a clear path through the maze.
  • Select a family member who did not see the maze and blindfold them. 
  • Let another family member voice instructions to direct the blindfolded member through the maze.

Next, discuss as a group on the following prompts:

  • Why was clear detailed communication necessary for this exercise?
  • How important was it to listen carefully to the one giving instructions? Why?
  • What were some of the difficulties associated with helping a family member complete this exercise?
  • Using some of the ideas from this exercise, how can you, as a family, improve your communication skills?

Conclusion

In this guide, we have discussed what are some effective family therapy strategies- such as regulating anger, assertive communication, precision communication, and family meetings- that you can apply in your own family to build and develop healthy and effective communication skills. 

References:

Ackerman.CE. What Is Family Therapy? + 6 Techniques & Interventions. Positive psychology, 26th October, 2021. Retrieved on 16th November, 2021

Ackerman.CE. 49 Communication Activities, Exercises, and Games. Positive psychology, 16th October, 2021. Retrieved on 16th November, 2021

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