If your family is facing challenges, you may want to consider family counseling. Family counseling or therapy is a type of psychological therapy intended to help family members in their relationships with one another. In counseling, you can work together to improve communication, resolve conflicts, and address issues.
The Process of Beginning Family Counseling
To better understand family counseling, read through the following process. This will help you feel more comfortable as you consider family counseling for your family.
Start with an initial assessment.
The family counseling process typically begins with an initial assessment. During this time, a counselor will meet with the family members to gather information about the family’s history, relationships, and current issues. This helps the therapist understand the dynamics of the family, gives people an opportunity to express their issues, and helps the counselor identify areas of concern.
Talk about goals.
After the assessment, the therapist and the family will work together to set therapeutic goals. These goals will be specific to your family’s needs. Some common goal areas include:
- Improving communication.
- Conflict resolution.
- Addressing behavioral issues.
- Improving overall family operations and relationships.
Understand the therapeutic approach.
While counselors have a variety of therapeutic approaches they can use, it is often a combination based on the family’s unique needs and the counselor’s expertise. Some approaches include cognitive-behavioral therapy, systemic therapy, and narrative therapy.
A counselor doesn’t always share the approach, but you are always welcome to ask them what approach they plan to use. You should always feel comfortable asking your counselor questions about your therapy.
Begin your counseling sessions.
A session is like an appointment. It is often a one-hour time block that the therapist meets with the family to provide counseling. Sessions should be held regularly at a time that works for all participating members of the family. During the session the counselor guides discussions, helps family members express their thoughts and feelings, introduces strategies, and facilitates productive communication.
During the sessions, a counselor will help the family identify unhealthy patterns of interaction, communication, and behavior that may contribute to conflicts or other issues. As you work together to recognize these patterns, you can learn strategies to help you make changes.
Work on communication.
A big part of family counseling revolves around communication. As you work with a counselor, you will work to improve communication skills among all family members. The counselor will help you learn strategies such as active listening, assertiveness, communicating boundaries, and effective expression of emotions.
Conflict is inevitable in families. A family counselor will help you and your family learn how to resolve conflicts together. Problem-solving, negotiation, and respectful communication will all work together to help you and your family work through disagreements.
Address behavioral changes.
As you work with the counselor, you can address specific behavioral issues among family members. Your counselor can guide each person in their role with the behavior. This can include implementing positive behavior changes and using reinforcement strategies.
Explore family roles.
Sometimes it helps to explore the roles of different people in your family. Family counseling can provide a safe space to explore each person’s role, how others see it, and how to make changes that benefit everyone. Together you can create a healthier and more balanced dynamic.
Family members may be given homework assignments or exercises to practice outside of counseling sessions. These assignments are designed to reinforce the skills and strategies learned in your sessions. As you practice outside of sessions you will learn to implement changes that help you and your family members.
It is important to periodically assess the family’s progress toward the goals established when you began family counseling. You want to make sure you are making progress toward the things you set out to achieve. You and your counselor can also adjust the goals as needed.
Sessions for family counseling continue until the family and the therapist determine that the goals have been met and the family has developed the necessary skills to address challenges independently. It is something that you need to agree upon together. Termination of services is often a reason to celebrate as you and your family have worked hard to overcome obstacles and grow closer together.
Learn more about family therapy.
If you would like to learn more about family counseling in San Diego, browse our online counselor directory. Learn about the counselors at San Diego Christian Counseling and the services they offer to find someone who might be a good fit.
At San Diego Christian Counseling, family therapy is a collaborative process that can help you and your family improve the overall well-being of the family unit. Together, you can discover a more supportive and peaceful way of living together.
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