Family counseling, also referred to as family therapy, is a type of psychotherapy involving the identification of familial patterns that lead to behavioral or mental problems in any family member. It is a method of addressing psychological issues arising from the family which can negatively affect the function of individuals within the family or their health.
Family counseling or family therapy is done by a family therapist. Family therapists are psychologists, social workers, or therapists who are specialized in family therapy.
Family therapy is essentially the same as family counseling. The difference, however, can be seen in that family therapy refers to every approach – counseling, family-group discussions, and so on – with the aim of addressing the underlying problems of the family. Family counseling is a subset of family therapy and it involves one-on-one discussion with the individuals involved.
A family consists of different individuals who share a lot in common and interact with each other at a very intimate level. They are expected to work together to achieve their common objectives. However, the unity of the individuals can be threatened by several factors.
When there is an issue with any member of the family, it can potentially affect the rest of the family members. These issues could be related to physical health, domestic violence, abuse, as well as a break in the cordial relationship that fosters normal family function.
Family counseling aims to assist affected family members in breaking from abnormal behaviors that are threatening the stability of the family, as well as help address the reasons for the abnormal behaviors. The ideal outcome of family counseling is to strengthen communication within the family by examining the quality of interpersonal interactions.
Family therapy entails sessions of conversation and counseling, in groups, pairs, or one-on-one, with the aim of identifying the problems of the family and the extent to which each member of the family is affected.
The Role of Family Counseling
Imagine a family in which the breadwinner is facing some challenges at work, or is battling ill-health; so many things can go wrong as a result. The dependants will suffer lack, hunger, and deprivation of basic requirements of life, including a good education. These in total can affect the behavior of the children or the health of the other partner who would have to work extra hard to sustain the family and the ill partner.
Family counseling at times like these can assist the family to go through the stress, through communication and provision of realistic solutions at every step of the consultation process. It can help to enhance communication between every member of the family – spouse, children, and other members of the extended family.
Family stress is not only limited to the illness of a family member. Family counseling can find usefulness in several other instances as follows;
- Conflicts between family members
- Substance misuse or addiction
- A family member’s mental illness
- Money issues or financial conflicts
- Concerns about school problems between siblings
- Issues regarding children’s behavior
- Caring for an Alzheimer’s patient in the family, etc
These problems may affect every part of your family members’ lives, including their performance at work, school, and their relationships with other people.
At any point, when you feel the problems in your family are overwhelming or things are not getting better, know that will be the best time to consult a family therapist. A family therapist can help the family establish new coping techniques for the problems, disputes, or obstacles currently inherent in the family.
Benefits of Family Counseling?
Having established that psychological, behavioral, and emotional problems within the family can threaten its function, the benefits of family counseling become obvious. These benefits may vary from family to family depending on the underlying issues in the family. These include;
- Family counseling or family therapy aims to treat psychological, behavioral, and emotional difficulties that may lead to a family conflict. A therapist will assist family members in developing and maintaining a healthy connection.
- Family counseling helps in the building and sustaining of healthy and effective family connections for the purpose of discovering and resolving family issues. These issues might be emotional, psychological, or behavioral.
- Improving communication by creating appropriate boundaries by identifying the role and place of everyone in the family in order to improve family dynamics and relationships while dealing with problematic connections. This gives family members the strength and coping ability during times of family turbulence.
Family counseling is a mainstay in the management of several family issues, disputes, and challenges as they affect each member of the family. Several methods of family therapy are adopted by family therapists, and these are based on Bowen’s family systems theory of human behavior. Bowen’s family system theory views the family as an emotional unit and uses systems thinking (a group of smaller components working together as a unit, e.g, the body system). Thus, the complex interactions and functionality of the family can be traceable to the small changes in the behaviors of each member of the family. The family is intensely connected emotionally.
When seeking to consult a family therapist, having an accepted insurance plan can be necessary to help offset the costs at such times when financial stability may also be affected.
In conclusion, family counseling does not magically fix family disputes or improve a problematic situation. It may, however, help the family members better understand each other, giving room for systematically learning to cope and overcome the challenging circumstances effectively through oneness.
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