Family and friendships are two of the greatest facilitators of happiness.– John. Maxwell
Family counseling is a type of psychological counseling (psycho-therapy) that is designed to assist you and your family members with improving communication and resolving conflicts. It may be provided by different kinds of properly credentialed, educated, trained, and experienced clinicians such as Licensed Professional Counselors.
Family counseling is often short-term and may include all or some of your family members that are willing to participate. The specific goals will depend on your family’s situation. Family counseling sessions can educate family members with abilities to strengthen family relationships and help you through a tough time with ongoing skills to manage future events.
Why it’s done
Family counseling can help you improve problematic relationships with your partner, children or other family members. You may address several issues such as marital or financial problems, conflict between parents and children, or the impact of substance abuse or a mental illness on the family.
How you prepare
Before scheduling sessions with a counselor, decide if the counselor would be a good fit for your family. Here are some factors to consider and questions to ask:
- Education and experience. What is your educational and training background? Are you licensed by the state? Are you certified by a national board? Do you have specialty training in family counseling? What is your experience with my family’s type of problem?
- Location and availability. Where is your office? What are your office hours? Are you available in case of emergency?
- Length and number of sessions. How long is each session? How often are sessions scheduled? How many sessions should I expect to have?
- Fees and insurance. How much do you charge for each session? Are your services covered by my health insurance plan? Will I need to pay the full fee upfront? What is your policy on canceled sessions?
What you can expect
Family counseling typically brings several family members together for counseling sessions. However, a family member may also see a family counselor individually. Sessions typically take about 45 minutes. However, double sessions are often needed, at least in the beginning, to address the concerns of each member. Family counseling is often short term — generally about 8 – 12 sessions. However, how often you meet and the number of sessions you’ll need will depend on your family’s situation and the counselor’s recommendation.
In each appointment you should be able to address the following items:
- Evaluate your family’s ability to resolve problems and express thoughts, behaviors, and emotions in a constructive manner.
- Explore family roles, rules and behavior patterns to identify concerns that add to conflict and develop ways to work through these matters.
- Identify your family’s strengths, such as caring for one another, and weaknesses, such as difficulty trusting one another.
As an example, if your adult daughter has depression or anxiety and your family doesn’t understand her condition or how best to offer support, family counseling may provide methods to express concerns over her well-being, have conversations with her about each person’s perspective, and help each person manage concern, frustration, or anger about the situation. Without these techniques, communication diminishes, crucial decisions are not made, family members avoid each other, and the schism grows larger. In this example, family counseling may assist you with the following steps:
- Pinpoint your specific challenges and how your family is handling them.
- Learn new ways to interact and overcome unhealthy patterns of relating.
- Set individual and family goals and work on ways to achieve them.
While there are no guarantees that family counseling will solve family conflicts, it can often help you and your family members understand one another more and provide helps to manage challenging situations more effectively. This may also help the family achieve a sense of closeness.
If you are wanting Christian Family Counseling, I can offer you Scriptural insights on family roles and how they may be accomplished in your family.