Family counseling is designed to address specific issues that affect the psychological health of the family unit. The family unit is a unique social system with its own patterns of communication and interactions, which are determined by beliefs, values, personalities of its members, and the influence of extended family. Each family member, in some way, affects the health and well-being of the family as a whole. The behavior of one family member can affect all the members, and therefore any change in one family member, affects the family structure.
There are many reasons families' will enter counseling. Some families have specific challenges and concerns. These may be due to any event that has strained family relationships, such as coping with financial hardship, death, divorce, substance abuse, or a mental health diagnosis. Family counseling can explore roles and behavior patterns to identify issues that contribute to specific challenges and concerns. Counseling can help identify family strengths, and then with guidance from the therapist, the family can learn healthy ways to interact in the face of their challenges and difficulties.
Family counseling can also address everyday concerns such as communication difficulties leading to interpersonal conflicts among members, unmet needs and expectations between members, misunderstandings, disapointments, buried resentments, and unresolved guilt. With the gentle guidance of the therapist, families can increase empathy and support for each other, strenghten family bonds and connectedness, learn ways to solve problems together and deal with changes cooperatively and effectiviely as a group.
The family appointment is a scheduled appointment for 45-50 minutes, typically on a weekly, or bi-monthly basis. The entire family may meet or just some of the members. In some cases, the therapist may see individuals in separate sessions to supplement the family sessions. Fear of blame, or guilt shouldnt keep people away from participation. Family counseling is about NOT about judgement or trying to assign blame, it is about healing and improved interactions within the family group. Even if one family member refuses to participate, other family members can still benefit by attending.