A type of group psychotherapy is family counselling or therapy. It is usually short-term and is led by a psychologist or licenced therapist. It can teach families how to resolve conflicts and improve communication. Family counselling can be done with the entire group or with just a few willing family members. If you’re interested in this type of therapy, discuss it with your loved ones. Then, find an appropriate therapist and begin working on your issues.
Part 1 Getting Your Family to Counseling
1. Let’s talk about it. Getting loved ones to attend family counselling together may require some planning and effort. Whether you’re trying to persuade your spouse, parents, or siblings, you must first have a candid conversation. Request that your loved ones sit down so that you can express your desire to them.
Inform your loved ones that you need to talk about something important, such as “Bill, I have something really important that I need to talk about with you.” “Can we sit together?” This will help them focus their attention while also conveying that they should take your words seriously.
Choose an appropriate time and location for your conversation. Choose a time when your loved ones are not busy and can give you their undivided attention. You could approach them in the evening, for example, after they have returned home from work and settled down.
Choose a time when everyone in your family is relaxed and at ease. Avoid bringing up the subject in public or while fighting.
2. Make a suggestion for counselling. The entire purpose of speaking with your loved ones is to propose family counselling, so be direct and to-the-point. Simultaneously, be prepared for some push-back. Approach the subject gently and patiently, and avoid becoming angry or defensive.
Try something like, “Maria, I’ve been thinking and wonder if we could communicate better with some assistance.” What are your thoughts on family counselling?”
Demonstrate empathy, for example, “I know this is a difficult conversation, but I’m only saying this because I care about you and our relationship.” I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t care about you and want things to be better between us.”
Because your loved ones may not be receptive to what you say, consider using “I” statements, such as “I believe that family counselling could help us” or “I’d really try to stop fighting with you, and I believe that having some help would be useful for me.” This language can help you express your feelings, but avoid using language that blames others.
3. Concentrate on finding solutions. If you focus on how family counselling can help solve problems, your loved ones may be more open to the idea. Instead of focusing on the opportunity to vent your feelings, emphasise how therapy together will teach you to fix problems in your relationships and communication.
For example, instead of saying, “I want to go to counselling so we can learn to get along better and find compromises,” say, “I want to go to counselling so you can understand me better.”
Mention how family therapy can reveal issues in your behaviour and family roles, as well as teach you how to work through them. Family therapy can also help you and your loved ones improve your ability to communicate, express thoughts and emotions, and work together to solve problems.
4. Investigate your options. Your loved ones ultimately have a choice: they may or may not be open to counselling. People may be afraid, distrustful, or sceptical of therapy’s effectiveness. But, even if they refuse, don’t give up. Other than family counselling, there are other options that can help you and your loved ones improve your relationships.
Propose, for example, a weekly family meeting where you can discuss the state of your relationship. Alternatively, commit to spending 10 minutes each day listening to the emotions of your loved ones.
You could also look into self-help books. Communication and dealing with conflict and power struggles in relationships are topics covered in books such as Getting the Love You Want and The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.
Remember that you can seek counselling on your own as well. Every member of a family contributes to the dynamic and is responsible for the quality of relationships on some level. Even if your other loved ones are not present, you can learn a lot.
Part 2 Finding a Counselor
1. Determine the type of programme you require. In general, family therapy can help with issues that arise in family relationships. However, there are various foci. Family therapists can assist parents in dealing with a disruptive child, for example, or in improving spouses’ interpersonal communication. The type that is best for you is largely determined by your requirements.
Do you have a child who is at risk? There are family therapies for children and adolescents who have behavioural issues, delinquency, or substance abuse.
Is there a member of the family who has a drug or alcohol problem that is affecting the group? This could be another area of focus in therapy.
There are also family therapists who work with marriages or assist families when a member suffers from a serious physical or mental illness.
2. Consult a physician. If you express a desire to see a therapist, your primary care physician should be able to refer you to one. Another medical professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, or nurse, may also provide you with advice. Simply inquire. They should be able to give you advice, recommend names, and assist you in finding someone in your area.
Inquire thoroughly about potential therapists. What, for example, are his or her qualifications and training? Are they certified, and do they specialise in family therapy?
Inquire about location, availability, and format as well. How long does each session of family counselling last? How many sessions are typically scheduled? Is the therapist available in case of an emergency?
Inquire about the cost as well as insurance. What is the therapist’s fee per session? Is she looking for full payment up front? Is she willing to accept payment from your insurance company?
3. Look it up on the internet. Look for family therapists and family therapy resources online as well. Begin with a general search in your area, such as “Family therapists in Baltimore,” but don’t overlook other specialised search engines. There are a number of therapy websites that provide special tools for locating practitioners across the country.
For example, Psychology Today’s website includes a Therapy Group search engine. You can conduct a search in your area and then narrow the results to find specialists in areas such as divorce or family conflict.
The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy’s therapist locator is a second resource. Search by the name of your city or town to find a list of licenced Marriage and Family Therapists in your area.
4. Inquire with local organisations. In addition to your doctor and online resources, you may wish to consult with local health organisations in your area. Check with hospitals, mental health clinics, community centres, and even university counselling services to see if they provide family therapy. You can contact us by phone, in person, or by email.
Call your local hospital, for example, and inquire about the family counselling services they offer. Some facilities, such as the Rhode Island Hospital, offer family therapy clinics to help with a variety of psychological issues.
Most universities also provide counselling services, including family therapy, to students and faculty. Check with a nearby college or university to see if you can take advantage of their programmes.
5. Learn about the various types of therapy. You’ll also want to know what kind of treatment methods your potential therapist will employ. Family counselling can employ a variety of techniques, each with its own set of assumptions and goals. The method used may be determined by your situation or by the therapist’s preference.
Check to see if Structural Family Therapy is right for you. SFT assumes that problems exist within the family structure – that is, the therapy focuses on group interactions rather than individual interactions. The therapist’s goal is to change the family’s ingrained ways of interacting.
You could also inquire about Brief Strategic Therapy. This type of counselling is brief and attempts to assess how the family interacts as a system once more. The therapist will attempt to identify problems and then set goals for change, as well as “tasks” for members to complete outside of sessions.
Consider Functional Family Therapy as well, particularly if you have a high-risk child. By focusing on changing behaviour at the individual level, FFT attempts to reduce the negativity that is often found in such families. This can be accomplished by improving members’ parenting, communication, and problem-solving abilities.
Part 3 Working Out Your Issues
1. Expect to take part. Most people believe that family counselling entails gathering the entire family (or both members of a couple) in one room. This is only a portion of it. Family therapy can be done in groups, but the therapist may also want to meet with each member of your family individually. Prepare to participate, whether alone or as part of a group. In fact, each member’s cooperation will be critical to the counseling’s success.
Some therapists prefer to see the entire family in one session. However, you should expect to have some full sessions as well as some apart or in smaller groups with the therapist.
Sessions are typically 50 to 60 minutes long. Family therapy courses are also typically brief, lasting no more than six months.
2. Consider yourself to be a part of a team. One of the fundamental concepts of family counselling is to view yourself and your loved ones as a unit. Families are made up of people who are part of social groups and systems, rather than isolated individuals. Each member of a family, father, mother, sister, brother, and other relatives, influences the behaviour of the others.
Assume you’re in therapy to address your child’s behavioural issues. A therapist can assist in linking the child’s problems to his experiences as a member of the family. Perhaps he struggles in school because a parent has been laid off; perhaps he acts out because he overhears arguments and fears his parents will divorce.
A family therapist may also request that you modify your behaviour and relationships with other members of the group. She may, for example, request that you alter your communication style with family members.
3. Prepare to discover new things about yourself – and your family. Family therapy must include a thorough examination of yourself, your loved ones, and your roles within the larger family unit. Family counselling can teach you a lot about how you interact with others, express your thoughts and emotions, and solve or create conflicts.
One of the therapist’s goals is to assist you in understanding how you and your loved ones interact, i.e. what the family roles, rules, and behaviour patterns are. Then, armed with this knowledge, you can figure out how to solve problems more effectively.
A therapist can also identify your family’s strengths as well as areas for improvement. Perhaps you are close and loyal to each other, but you do not easily express your emotions. The therapist may then concentrate on encouraging you to communicate more freely and openly.
Armed with this knowledge, family therapy should assist you in coping with family conflict and, ideally, gaining a better sense of understanding with your loved ones.
Creative Commons License