Counselling for Family Issues with a Family Therapist
The most significant authors of all time, Leo Tolstoy, wrote in his famous work Anna Karenina, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy its own way.”
Humans are called social animals or creatures that actively look for bonding and association. The first form of association that we see since birth is not only with the mother, but with the family, we are born into.
The family mostly shapes our identities, thoughts, experiences, and destiny we are born into or raised by. The color of the glass we see ourselves, other family members, friends, society, and country are all tinted with family values.
Isn’t it said the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
We not only genetically naturally inherit our parents’ DNA, but we inherit their mental makeup and character in our own lives. That is why it is easier for the child of a business family to enter or start their own business. A professional advocate’s children are more likely to become successful attorneys themselves.
As the famous African proverb goes, it takes a village to raise a child. The definition of family may include or exclude anyone depending on how liberal or conservative you want it to be. Still, the people who live with us 24×7, in the same home and share the same dining table, even if not related by blood relations, are our family and vice versa influence us.
Our vocabulary, tone, tenor, how we approach problems of various kinds, our habits, and how we perceive the situations and respond to them are all influenced by our family.
So you see that a loving, supportive, and helpful family is more likely to raise children with similar values. On the other hand, a broke, abusive, or dysfunctional family will raise children who are emotionally deprived and ailing with severe psychological disorders.
According to Life Coach, who is also a family counselor, a healthy family with healthy relationships to provide a positive and constructive environment for children, is something that is the responsibility of not only the parents and siblings but also the grandparents and other relatives who live under the same roof.
A dysfunctional family where everyone struggles, no one communicates, people scream and shout at each other, physical and brutal punishment is commonplace, where instincts of children are not supported but discouraged or even mocked is the worst kind of situation to put a child through.
The family we are born into is not in our hands, but the family we raise undoubtedly is. Most dysfunctional families are unhappy because of differing expectations and asymmetrical communication between them and this is reversible in many cases and undoubtedly containable in all cases.
With family therapy and counseling, you can offer your family a way to develop a healthy, functional family with love and affection being the bonds and not some social pressure.
What is Family Counseling?
Family counselling is a scientific and result-oriented mechanism where trained and certified counselors use proven tools, techniques, and consultation to understand, make the participants realize, and help them achieve the goal of improving their relationships to enhance all family’s mental well-being members.
Family therapy is based on psychology and neuroscience. It is a counseling technique to help families or their members improve their relationship by improving communication, conflict resolution, and understanding the value of family bonding.
As Tolstoy’s famous quote signifies, the reasons for the dysfunctional or unhappy families are many and may range from financial to emotional, from lack of trust to too much of it!
A family counseling center is usually a professional association of trained, licensed, certified psychologists, life coaches, and clinical therapists.
Counseling or therapy for the most willing family members is often short term, from 6 to 12 sessions. Depending on the insights gained during that period, the family counselor may suggest a specific counseling and treatment plan for some family members.
Ritu Singal suggests that the sessions with all members together and with them individually are needed and planned to understand each one’s point of view and offer them creative ways to raise differences in opinion, handle possible conflict situations and start the stalled communication.
Family therapy sessions can teach you skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after being done going to therapy sessions.
Family counselling is a form of treatment to address issues affecting a family’s mental and emotional well-being and health to ensure all its members’ mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It is also used to counsel and guide families to face trauma or a difficult period like the passing away of a loved one, prolonged suffering due to illness, financial crisis, or even change of place.
Successful and learned family counselor and Life Coach explains, “Family counselling observes individuals’ problems in the context of their family, and the assumption is that these problems cannot be successfully addressed without understanding the family dynamics.”
Contours of Family Counselling and Therapy
Family therapy usually involves techniques, tools, and exercises from cognitive sciences, behavioral sciences and therapy, interpersonal therapy, psychology, and other such scientific systems. As with any method of treatment, the course of action and tools employed depend on the client and the problems they suffer.
The biggest issue in psychological counseling and therapy is that clients and their family members are often unaware of the problem’s root causes as the symptoms are themselves bothersome.
Most of the time, Ritu Singal recalls, behavioral or emotional problems reported by School authorities in their children are the primary reason why parents visit a family counseling center. She says that a child’s problems do not exist in vacuum, and the reason for their existence and the remedy both, lie in the counselling and eventual healing of the family.
In family counselling and therapy, the family does not only mean blood relatives, but also people who play a long-term supportive role in anyone’s life. It can be divided into these most common types:
- Bowenian – best suited for situations where an individual doesn’t want to involve other family members. It is based on concepts of triangulation (the natural tendency to vent or de-stress by talking to a third party) and differentiation (learning to become less emotionally reactive);
- Structural – It focuses on adjusting and strengthening the family system to bring the parents in control and respect their boundaries. The therapist observes the family from close quarters to learn about the issues and help the family;
- Systemic – It focuses on the subconscious and non-verbal communications and meanings behind the behaviors of family members. The therapist is distant and allows the members to delve more in-depth about their family issues.
- Strategic – It is brief and direct where the therapist assigns homework (practical work-related and something to note down) to family members. It is intended to alter the family interactions where the therapist takes the position of power.
Therefore, a family therapist may have to perform many different roles and requires a great deal of training, formal education, and license to ensure that he or she is capable of handling such delicate matters.
Every therapist, whatever training they have undergone, whatever methods they apply, and whatever treatment techniques they prefer, must ensure, at the minimum, the treatment of:
- Child and adolescent behavioral problems
- Severe differences of opinion due to generational gaps
- Discord arising due to children marrying out of family traditions
- Depression and anxiety
- Sexuality and gender fluidity issues
- Abusive behavior and domestic violence
- Sexual harassment and abuse
- Infertility and childlessness
- Marital conflicts
- Extra-marital affairs and infidelity
- Substance abuse
- Personal conflicts within couples or families
- Unexpected and terminal illness
- Unemployment and financial losses
- Rekindling a healthy romantic relationship
- Divorce or separation
Life Coach employs the below-listed procedures and tools to understand and help the families that have come to her for sessions:
- Observe how family members interact in isolation, with other members, and with others
- Ask a question from specially designed questionnaires and record their responses
- Evaluate and resolve relationship problems;
- Guide clients through transitional crises such as divorce or death
- Identify problematic relational or behavioral patterns and suggest ways to step out of them or manage them
- Help substitute dysfunctional behaviors with constructive and positive alternatives
- Take a holistic mind, body, and soul approach to wellness
Family therapy can help your loved ones and improve your relationship with your partner, children, parents, siblings, and other family members. Family counseling is not a substitute or a replacement for individual therapy for any of your family members.
It helps and supplements the person’s therapy and helps them with the family’s support and love that may otherwise be missing. With family therapy, we can ensure faster recovery for the person undergoing individual treatment and counseling.
As the famous Chinese philosopher, Confucius has said,
“To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order;
to put the nation in order, we must first put the village in order;
to put the village in order, we must first put the family in order;
to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life;
we must first set our hearts right.”
The primary aims and goals of family counseling are dependent on the problems described by the clients. Every family is different, and therefore their dreams of attending family counseling will also be different. There is no one-size-fits-all scenario here, and every session is custom and tailor-made to meet the clients and their families’ requirements. For example, consider these scenarios where goals may differ:
- One of your family members is diagnosed with severe psychosis or bipolar disorder. Family counseling aims to align the support and understanding of all members to help the patient and channelize his/her energies for positive change. This goal has to be met with the least disruption to the work-life balance of other family members and gaining maximum support at the same time.
- With the generational gap in communication where the couple became parents too late in life or are conservative or grandparents live together in a joint family or grandparents raising children. The goal is to thaw the frozen communication and make both or all generations involved understand and respect the person’s boundaries and limitations in front of them.
- Families that do not fit in the “normal family” brackets of the society, such as live-in couples and their children, same-sex couples with adopted children, single parents raising a child, etc. have to face many coping problems, societal exclusions, and biases. Family counseling aims to help the members understand that they are different in the family’s external structure and not as human beings and help they learn how to deal with bullies and hostile societal attitudes.
- Families where sound comes from a different racial, ethnic, religious, cultural, linguistic, or other backgrounds have difficulty adjusting to the needs and expectations. Here, the goal is to help the family, especially the new member, understand each other, accept and respect diversity, and develop healthy relationships.
How you prepare
You can ask your primary care doctor for a referral to a therapist. Family members or friends may give recommendations based on their experiences. You can also ask your employee assistance program, clergy, or state or local mental health agencies for therapists’ suggestions.
Before scheduling sessions with a therapist, consider whether the therapist 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? Does the state license you? Are you accredited by the AAMFT or other professional organizations? Do you have specialty training in family psychotherapy? 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 an 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? Does my health insurance plan cover your services? Will I need to pay the full fee upfront? What is your policy on canceled sessions?
In many cases, Life Coach and Family Counsellor observes, family counseling and therapy typically have brought together most of the family members in one room to talk to each probably for the first time in many years.
Just the fact that they can openly talk to each other, respect others’ right to be heard, and politely and patiently put their points of view has solved many of their problems. To make sure that such absence of communication does not come again in a few days, counsellors equips them with tools, exercises, and techniques using which they can check their behavior and suggest others check their help each other come closer.
With the help of a trained life coach and expert counselor, a holistic approach to treating individuals and a family has proven to be effective in most cases. Family therapy lets families work on their issues, under the guidance of a professional, in a safe, private, and controlled environment.
During family therapy, you can see, observe, and expect the following:
- To examine your family’s ability to solve problems together
- To see of all members can express their thoughts and emotions in a helpful and polite manner
- Understand and explore the roles of each member in the family
- Understand and start respecting the rules of a happy family
- Identify and pinpoint the behavior patterns contributing to conflict and learning ways to manage them
- Find the strengths of the family and how each one can support others
- A better understanding of boundaries, private spaces, and dislikes of each member
- Better, more and effective communication
- More profound empathy for family members with troubles and problems
- Anger management skills to help avoid explosive situations
- Help the family positively mourn and come out of grief by bringing them together
- Creating honesty and instilling trust in family members for each other;
- Helping family members forgive each other and express heartfelt gratitude
Why Life Coach?
Family counselors and therapists have to deal with great care as every person of the group in a family counseling session can upstage the whole process at any time. They must realize the scope of their work, the gravity of the situation, and their effect on client’s and families’ lives.
Life coach and family counselor is a trained, certified, and licensed life coach and family therapist. She had helped many families during their crisis period when they were suggested to undergo family counseling due to great upheavals in their lives.
She has helped numerous couples, their children, and their parents respect each other and listen to them. She has maintained the utmost privacy to safeguard the trust reposed in her.
A family therapist will not tell you what to do; instead she will help you find your problems and solutions.
Family counseling session’s outcomes depend on the commitment, level of participation, integrity, and honesty on the part of all family members. The scientific and psychological tools, techniques, and exercises help you monitor and track your milestones.
Your expectations, circumstances, emotions, desires, and needs all play a role in what you get out of any session and the overall exercise.