What is Family Conflict & When Should You Seek Help?

Family conflict is some form of active opposition between family members and can be between a number of variations of family members (Marta & Alfieri, 2014). Family conflict often happens when views and beliefs clash.

‘Family’ does not only include one’s nuclear family (i.e., parents and siblings),  but can also encompass cousins, grandparents, adopted or fostered children, unmarried couples, close friends, and any combination of a social unit that considers itself a family system. Conflict within one relationship in a family system most commonly affects the other members of the family system.

What are common types of family conflict?

  • Financial issues involve a disagreement or opposition on how money is managed or budgeted
  • Verbal problems include difficulties communicating with one or more members of a family unit
  • Change includes any newness within a family unit such as:
    • separation or divorce
    • moving (a smaller scale move or a larger scale move)
    • adding a new family member to the family unit
    • adjustment to change in shared lifestyle as a family unit
    • loss of a family member
  • Authoritative problems can include difficulties with power dynamics, such as lack of boundaries
  • Behavioral issues can include a family member who  engages in behavior that is harmful, unhelpful, or risky, such as discipline or behavioral issues at school

While these are some common challenges families may face, this is not a complete list. The spectrum of challenges in which families face range in types and in intensity. 

When should my family seek help?

While many family units are able to find resilience within these types of conflict as they arise, there are many family units who in fact struggle with finding resilience. Even the families who appear to find resilience could benefit from family therapy to address family conflict.

There is no “one size fits all” approach. Family therapy is a collaborative approach among all family members and the therapist. When a family unit makes the choice to explore family therapy, usually they will meet together with the therapist for the first intake session to discuss each perspective on the conflict and history of distress. Once these conversations have taken place, each member of the family unit and the therapist collaboratively discuss treatment goals. 

How does therapy help to resolve family conflict?

Family therapy can help you develop, repair, or improve relationships among family members. Research shows that different types of therapy can be helpful in resolving family conflict. According to Varghese et al. (2020), psychodynamic therapy, behavioral methods, structural family therapy, and strategic techniques can all produce positive results depending on the challenges presented. Friesen & Markowsky (2021) found that family-based cognitive behavioral therapy has helped reduce symptoms of ADHD which include various behavioral difficulties such as impulsivity, hyperactivity, inattention  and specifically, shown to reduce anxiety in adolescence with ADHD. Jiménez et al. (2019) has found that the use of incorporating complementary approaches targeting families as a whole is beneficial in families with adolescents with mental health issues.

Family therapy can improve communication, solve family problems, help understand and handle special family situations, and create a better functioning home environment (Varghese et al., 2020). Bachler at al. (2016) found that changes in psycho-social skills and symptoms of individuals and family systems are even possible for families who are facing these challenges.

Have questions or want to schedule an appointment?

Where do I look for family therapy in NYC?

If you are looking for therapy in NYC and don’t know where to start, you are not alone. Finding a therapist can be overwhelming, and costly, especially in NYC. If you’re looking for a cost effective therapist, you can either search for one who accepts your insurance or find an outpatient practice that offers lower fees. Here at NYBH, we offer therapy at reduced rates. Plus, many places offer virtual options in addition to in-person sessions. 

It’s important you find someone who you feel comfortable with and trust. It is not uncommon to speak with multiple therapists before finding one that you connect with. Want to make a change? Learn more, contact us today.


Bachler, E., Frühmann, A., Bachler, H., Aas, B., Strunk, G., & Nickel, M. (2016). Differential effects of the Working Alliance in family therapeutic home-based treatment of multi-problem families. Journal of Family Therapy, 38(1), 120–148. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-6427.12063 

Friesen, K., & Markowsky, A. (2021). The diagnosis and management of anxiety in adolescents with COMORBID ADHD. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 17(1), 65–69. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nurpra.2020.08.014 

Jiménez, L., Hidalgo, V., Baena, S., León, A., & Lorence, B. (2019). Effectiveness of structural–strategic family therapy in the treatment of adolescents with mental health problems and their families. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 16(7), 1255. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071255 

Marta, E., & Alfieri, S. (2014). Family conflicts. Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research, 2164–2167. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-0753-5_997

Varghese, M., Kirpekar, V., & Loganathan, S. (2020). Family interventions: Basic principles and Techniques. Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(8), 192. https://doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.indianjpsychiatry_770_19 

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