Understanding Family Counseling

Family counseling can be an essential component in improving communication and bonds in a family. The focus in family counseling is on dysfunction and negative patterns in the family, as opposed to in an individual. Those participating in family counseling can participate in group sessions with the family unit; additionally, individuals can participate in individual sessions that focus on the family dynamic. Many therapists regard family counseling as taking a strengths-based approach, meaning that the therapy centers on the assets each member brings to the larger family unit. 

Families that seek out family counseling often have experienced:

  • Mental health issues in the family
  • A traumatic event, such as a death
  • Significant life changes (divorce, incarceration)
  • Excessive conflict
  • Developmental delays in a child
  • New marriages or blended situations

The “family” that takes place in this form of counseling is not limited to biological relatives. Close friends, extended family members, and stepparents and siblings all participate in family counseling.

The Benefits of Family Therapy 

Families that participate in family therapy can enjoy many benefits, including but not limited to:

  • Healthier boundaries in the family
  • Greater health and wellness
  • Less inter-family conflict
  • Enhanced conflict resolution skills
  • Enhanced communication skills
  • More trust and closer bonds

As a unit, families may find, too, that they can deal with crises more effectively after therapy. In the end, the goal of counseling a family is to enhance quality of life within the family unit. 

This does not happen overnight. All members of a family need to commit to the process and participate fully. Those who wish to supplement the process can also attend individual sessions. 

What Happens in Family Therapy

Every family is unique. As a result, family therapy varies from one family to the next. In the first few sessions, the counselor will work to understand the issues at play, hearing from each member of the family. In ensuing sessions, the counselor will work with the family to build better communication and coping mechanisms in light of these issues. Typically, families will attend anywhere from 5 to 15 or 20 sessions, depending on the issues faced by the family. 

Family therapy can include:

  • Getting to know family strengths
  • Understanding where communication is failing the family
  • Exploring the dynamic of the family unit
  • Establishing better coping mechanisms

Family therapy is never about taking sides or confirming accusations. Everyone should feel safe in the therapeutic environment. Get in touch with DCPS today to explore how we can help your family through family counseling.