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Family Counseling

Common questions about what family counseling is, who it’s for and how it can help. 

What is Family Counseling?

Family counseling, also known as family therapy, involves seeking the help of a mental health and relationship expert to aid you in addressing psychological, behavioral and/or emotional issues to foster a healthy environment and better relationships between family members. 

Family counseling can be useful for addressing specific issues between two or three family members, as well as working with a larger group of family members to repair or strengthen complex and/or intergenerational relationships.

What Can I Expect From a Family Counseling Appointment?

A family counseling appointment is a lot like an individual counseling session, with the exception that multiple family members will attend each session. Each family member will be encouraged to speak to one another as well as the therapist to address concerns as they arise.

At first, it can be difficult for individual family members to feel comfortable or willing to speak openly within the counseling setting. Your therapist is aware of this challenge, and will work with each individual and the group as a whole to help develop and foster an environment in which open communication is encouraged.

What are the Goals of Family Counseling?

The goal of family counseling is to help develop, maintain, strengthen and repair familial relationships. Within that main goal, individuals and families seeking counseling may have smaller or more specific goals, including:

  • Better communication
  • More honesty/openness
  • Developing healthy boundaries
  • Improved accountability
  • Greater understanding of or respect for one another
  • Stronger relationships with one another
  • Improvement of problem-solving skills

If you have specific goals in mind, these should be discussed with your therapist or counselor to aid them in guiding discussions and incorporating the right counseling techniques to help you get the most out of each session.

What are Some Techniques Used in Family Counseling?

Within family counseling, there are a variety of techniques that your counselor may employ to help you reach your goals. These types of techniques include:

  • Functional family therapy
  • Multisystemic therapy
  • Transgenerational therapy
  • Brief strategic family therapy
  • Structural therapy

Each of these therapy techniques serve specific functions and come with their own sets of tools and methodologies to aid families in addressing a variety of concerns. They may also be used in conjunction with one another to address more complex issues.

Who Should Be Involved in Family Counseling?

Family counseling can involve any number of family members, from parent and child to an entire intergenerational group.

The individuals who need to be involved is determined by the issue being addressed, and your counselor may make suggestions on who should or should not attend depending on the goal of each session.

How do I Prepare for a Family Counseling Appointment?

You can prepare for a family counseling appointment as you do for an individual session, with a few additional considerations. The following tips are always helpful:

  • Communicate the reason for the session to all involved family members so that they understand the nature of the visit
  • Encourage all participants to write down questions or concerns that they may have so that they can bring them to each session.
  • Always frame counseling in a positive light – it is not a punishment!
  • Communicate to your family why it’s important to you and what you are looking to accomplish.

Your counselor may also give suggestions or “assignments” during sessions. It’s important to do your best to complete these to aid in fostering progress when you next attend.

How Many Sessions are Usually Needed for Family Counseling?

The number of sessions needed for family counseling is determined by the issue you are looking to address as well as participant willingness and openness. Your therapist can give you an estimate during your initial consultation.

What is Family Systems Theory?

Family systems therapy is a mindset that individuals within a family naturally form interdependent systems with one another. This means that changes to each individual affects the others within that system, and that each individual can influence changes in each other, whether or not they intend to or realize it at the time.

Family systems theory is useful in helping individual family members understand how their actions, behavior and attitudes affect others.

How Much Does Family Counseling Cost?

Some insurance plans may cover family counseling, depending on the nature of the visit and whether there is a mental health diagnosis.

Do not let the fear of cost keep you from getting the help you need. If you have questions about the cost of counseling, please contact our office.