Every family faces challenges on occasion. Sometimes, those challenges can take on a life of their own and become too big to comfortably handle on your own. Stress, conflict, and tension can start dominating the atmosphere at home, and individual members may adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms like workaholism, excessive internet gaming, substance abuse, or even just internalizing the stress and feeling worse and worse.
In these situations, family counseling may be the answer.
What Is Family Counseling?
Family counseling, also called family therapy, is a type of mental health service in which a qualified professional helps families work through the interpersonal issues they face in a constructive way. The sessions can be attended by all relevant and willing members of the household or family, who may or may not also be in individual therapy. Depending on the situation at hand, family counseling can consist of no more than a few sessions, or be a long-term arrangement.
What Types of Problems Can Be Solved in Family Counseling?
Contrary to popular belief, family counseling is not only suitable for obvious conflict situations that may include an impending divorce, conflicts among already-separated co-parents and their children, domestic violence, or aggressive and uncommunicative teenagers. Although this type of therapy can absolutely help in those situations, its application is much broader than that.
Examples of challenges family counseling can potentially help with would include:
- Dealing with bereavement, especially a traumatic one such as a violent or premature death in the family, in a healthy manner.
- Situations in which all family members recognize that they are not able to communicate as effectively or openly as they would like, and want to learn how to do better.
- Conflict among siblings.
- When a parent has a new partner and would like to work through their children’s feelings regarding that family transition in the presence of a therapist.
- When a family member is dealing with a serious medical issue that affects everyone’s well-being.
What are the benefits of discussing these difficult topics in the presence of a family counselor, rather than in your living room on your own, you may wonder?
Well, first, the fact that a therapist is present can act as a protective barrier — family members can feel more comfortable speaking their minds knowing that a trained professional can help them if the conversation gets very difficult. The therapist can also ensure that every person has the time and chance to say what they really need to, perhaps bypassing long-standing patterns in which more assertive members of the household interrupt others.
The other side, however, is that the counselor can give constructive suggestions on dealing with the challenges a family faces, and offer up homework that allows family members to practice healthier ways of interacting with each other. The end goal is for everyone to be able to communicate with each other in a way that makes them feel valued and respected.
What Can You Expect From Family Counseling Sessions?
The style will vary from one therapist to another. However, don’t expect the family counselor to lead each session from beginning to end. Rather, come to the table with a list of topics that you would like to discuss prepared. Your relatives should do the same. Each person will get a chance to speak their mind. Once a core problem emerges, the therapist can ask everyone further questions that allow everyone in attendance to understand the issues ahead better, or the therapist may offer up techniques to allow you to reach progress regarding a problem you have been stuck on.
In some sessions, the therapist may not do much talking at all — their very presence can be enough to allow you all to reach solutions and grow closer. In others, the therapist will lead you through communication strategies, or ask you to review the homework they previously gave you.
Family counseling is not an alternative to individual therapy. Although some sessions may be more about one family member than another, remember that family counseling is supposed to help the entire group. You can, however, bring issues that you may have discussed in individual therapy to family counseling sessions.
SAGE Counseling Omaha
At SAGE Counseling Omaha, our primary focus is on helping you to get the support and treatment that you need as you move forward. We all experience challenges that are often too difficult to work through on our own, and we are here to support you during these tough times.
When you connect with our compassionate counseling team, you can rest assured that you will receive the individualized care that you need. Contact us today. For approved clients, we are able to utilize telehealth services through our HIPAA-compliant virtual software.