Family counseling, also known as family therapy, is a method in which the people involved develop and continue to practice habits that maintain a harmonious, healthy, and functional relationship with their family members.
Family therapy focuses on identifying, addressing, and working on issues within the family.
How does family counseling help?
How does family and relationship counseling help?
We all dream of having a family where each member works hard to maintain peace and love, but what if issues arise and we find ourselves in a toxic environment?
How does family counseling help?
There can be different issues to tackle in family therapy. It could be behavioral, emotional, and psychological, but how does family therapy work?
Depending on the issue, its severity, and the people involved, different methods would be applied.
Family counseling includes any family member that will take part. This could include the parents, spouses, siblings, and children with the help of a licensed therapist.
There are different family counseling types and here are some of them:
It focuses on making each family member address, accept, and understand mental health conditions. They guide family members to act as one support system, giving them options such as self-help, medications, and other treatment options.
Family systems therapy
It focuses on helping family members use their strengths to overcome challenges, such as mental health problems.
Functional family therapy
It offers help for young people who are experiencing problems with substance abuse, suicidal or risky behaviors, and even violence. It also guides the other family members to understand and offer support for each other.
Narrative family therapy
It focuses on letting each family member to open up and to share their own story. This method allows each member of the family to understand where each other is coming from.
Supportive family therapy
It focuses on creating a safe atmosphere that allows each family member to openly share and for their family member to support them.
The family counselor gets to the cause of the problems, makes the family members understand, and applies the proper course of action. This, of course, takes time, as the family learns to work things out. That is why family therapy is important.
What does a family therapist do? These licensed professionals help families overcome their issues and problems. They also guide each member on how to handle future issues and improve relationships.
“My family counseling sessions have just started. How can this help my family and me?”
There is no perfect family, and most of us resolve conflicts on our own, but what if you feel that you’re growing apart? What if you’re dealing with so many changes around you?
These, along with other family issues, can take a toll on anyone. This is where family counseling therapy comes in. Here are some reasons you might consider the benefits of family counseling.
1. Adjusting on a blended family
Finding yourself adjusting to a blended family can be scary. A blended family is when two families decide to become one. How does this happen?
There are different blended families. One example is when two individuals who have kids marry. It could also happen when a person marries someone who already has kids.
It isn’t easy adjusting to a whole new family, especially kids.
One day you find yourself with other siblings, a new parent, and the heartache of dealing with your previous setting. Family relationship counseling can help a lot.
Kids can sometimes act difficult, but deep inside, they are confused, lost, and hurt. Step-parents also become frustrated and lost with the entire ordeal of trying to bond with the kids.
The therapist can offer help not just to kids but also to the parents who are trying to get things together. After all, they all want to have a whole, loving, and understanding family.
2. Major changes in your life
Not all of us can easily adjust with the changes happening around us. These changes can take a toll on a person’s emotional and mental health, changes like moving to a new city, handling divorce and custody battle, and even grief within the family.
Asking for help is not something to be ashamed of. A family psychotherapist can help you and your whole family to adapt to these changes.
3. Feeling lonely and alone
How does family therapy work when someone feels alone or neglected? Does it help?
We all need space. Even our spouse could sometimes ask for their alone time, and that’s normal. When we have kids and they get older, we also notice them wanting their privacy.
However, without realizing it, we may affect some of our family members. A person who feels like their loved ones are slowly withdrawing from them can cause depression.
They don’t understand what’s going on or start feeling that they are no longer valued, loved, or needed.
In family therapy, the whole family can address the issue and work together to ensure that all sides are heard and understood. This allows them to work on their family.
We all know that kids who are experiencing life being a teen usually feel overwhelmed, but the reality is that even parents have a hard time.
For the child, experiencing changes, emotions, and the feeling that you need to discover yourself is tough. They sometimes feel like their parents don’t understand them, but they are trying.
Parents, too, feel overwhelmed with the changes happening around them. The kids who used to be clingy are now asking for privacy, and this could become overbearing.
Family and relationship counseling can help you and your child by supporting each other. Communication, understanding, and respect can do so much.
5. Substance abuse
When a family member is suffering from substance abuse, treatment and lots of support are required. Unfortunately, due to stress, some family members may give up, thinking that it’s a lost cost.
Substance abuse is very common and is treatable. One of the biggest forms of support that a family member could give is their love, care, and patience, but we all know that this is hard.
This is where therapy for family issues comes in. When a family member needs help, whether an intervention, rehab services, or even outpatient counseling, the whole family should be in it together.
Each one has a role to play, and together, they can make a change.
6. Secrets within the family / trust issues
There are things you keep to yourself, but trust and honesty are important in a family. If you are keeping secrets with your spouse or partner, this can ruin not just your marriage, but also your family.
Counseling and family therapy can help you and your partner to understand the issue. Therapy could also help you make peace to your past and look forward to a better future.
7. Withholding intimacy or lack of it
What happens when you feel neglected by your spouse or partner?
What if your partner does something wrong, and the only way you can punish this person is to withdraw intimacy?
Punishments and neglect shouldn’t be included in your marriage. As partners, you should be there for each other and work things out together.
Neglect, emotional withdrawal, and punishment are already signs of manipulation, and this should stop. There is a better way to address issues, and family counseling can help.
Stephanie Lyn Coaching explains what it’s like to be manipulated and what’s the reason behind this behavior.
8. Past issues that still haunt you
People who have experienced trauma often deal with PTSD. Most often, people would just say “move on” or “don’t think about it,” but these are easier said than done.
Young or old, a person who has experienced trauma needs their family and all the support they can get.
Undergoing family therapy can help by bringing everyone on the same page. From there, they would better understand the situation and could offer support and love.
We all grow and mature, and sometimes, along with all these changes, we drift apart.
Cousins no longer talk to each other, teenagers no longer show affection to their parents, and sometimes, grandparents feel left out too. There could also be differences in opinion in a family.
One parent may want to venture into business while the other may want to start a homestead.
While all of these differences are normal, they could sometimes get out of hand. Some family members feel that they no longer see the same goal, and this can be quite discouraging.
A family council can help all the family members be on the same page. Open communication, allowing each one to explain their side, can open a deeper understanding.
10. Resentment or grudges
Most of us may relate to this too. Sometimes, trauma and hurt can grow and affect a person’s relationship with a family member.
If you don’t address trauma or hurt over time, it develops into a deep resentment that can ruin the closest family members.
Family and relationship counseling can provide family members with a safe and neutral space to address conflicts, with the end goal of working things out.
We’ve seen kids not talking to their parents and siblings, not even recognizing each other. Sadly, these people could pass their resentment to their kids.
Counseling can heal and make moving on easy.
How do you prepare for family counseling?
Now that you know the meaning and importance of family counseling, the next step is how to prepare for it.
Consider the following:
Ask for a recommendation
You can ask your family doctor for a recommendation or maybe check out reviews online. You can also ask close friends if they know a family therapist.
Once you have a list, check their experience and the reviews.
Methods used and number of sessions
Inquire about the methods used and the number of sessions. How are these sessions scheduled? How many hours would it take?
Finally, ask for the fees and insurance. We don’t want to spend more than our budget allows us, right? Ask if you need to pay upfront and ask about their policy in case you need to cancel.
Once these are set, talk to your family members. In counseling, everyone should go because they want to. They should also be able to commit 100%.
What you should expect from family counseling
Family counseling therapy may be confusing for some, so explain everything to them first.
A usual therapy session will need to bring family members together. The usual session may last for about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
There are short-term sessions, but mostly, it would take 12 or more, depending on the issues and the willingness of each family member to cooperate.
Expect that you will uncover emotions, resentments, and stories you have never heard before. You can also expect to take part because you’re a part of the family.
Lastly, expect that with everything that you’ll uncover, your willingness to work everything out will be your greatest strength.
Remember that family therapy is just the first step into fixing your issues, but the rest is still up to you. The therapist will help you open up and provide you and your family members with the skills you can use to handle situations.
No one wants to feel alienated and hurt by their own family. Sadly, this often happens, and the pain can be overbearing.
Know that it’s never too late to bring back your harmonious relationship with the help of family counseling.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Sylvia Smith loves to share insights on how couples can revitalize their love lives in and out of the bedroom. As a writer at Marriage.com, she is a big believer in living consciously and encourages couples to adopt this principle in their lives too. Sylvia believes that every couple can transform their relationship into a happier, healthier one by taking purposeful and wholehearted action.