It must be noted that in family therapy or counseling, the term “family” does not always mean blood relatives. In this context, “family” is an individual who “plays a long-term supportive role in one’s life, which may not mean blood relations or family members in the very same household.”
Family counseling brings together individuals of the family to work through situational or relationship issues. Counselors will help the family acknowledge their patterns, build on strengths as well as develop alternatives, providing all family members a voice in the process.
Family counseling is a kind of treatment that is designed to resolve specific issues affecting the health and functioning of a family. It can be used to help a family through a challenging period of time, a major transition, or mental or behavioral health issue in family members.
Family therapy can employ techniques and exercises from cognitive therapy, interpersonal therapy, behavior therapy, or other types of individual therapy. Like with the other types of treatment, the techniques employed will depend on the specific issues the client or clients present with.
Behavioral or emotional issues in children are common reasons to visit a family therapist. A youngster’s problems do not exist in a vacuum; they exist in the context of the family and will likely need to be addressed within the context of the family members.
Motive of Family Counseling
In a nutshell, the objective of family therapy is:
To work together to recover any emotional, mental, or psychological problems tearing your family apart.
In order to assist a family to work together towards a healthy life, family therapists aim to aid family members in improving interaction, solving family problems, understanding and handling special family situations, and creating a better working home environment.
The goals of family therapy depend on solving the problems of the clients. For example, the goals vary based on the following scenarios:
- A member of the family is suffering from schizophrenia or severe psychosis: The motive is to help other family members understand the disorder and adjust to the psychological changes that the member may be undergoing.
- Issues arising from cross-generational boundaries, such as when parents share a home with grandparents, or children are being raised by grandparents: In this case, the aim is to improve communication and help the family members set healthy boundaries.
- Families drifting from social norms (unmarried parents, gay couples raising children, etc.): The main goal here is not always to address any specific internal problems, but the family members may need help coping with external factors like social attitudes.
- Family members who come from mixed cultural, racial, or religious backgrounds: The motto, in this case, is to help family members widen their understanding of one another and maintain healthy relationships.
- One family member is being scapegoated or having their treatment in individual therapy undermined:
- When one member is struggling with feeling like being outcast or gets limited support from other family members, the aim is to give increased empathy and understanding for the individual within their family and provide them support to continue their treatment.
Benefits of Family Counseling:
This comprehensive approach to treating problems within a family has proven to be extremely effective in many cases. In family therapy, family members can work on their problems with the guidance of a mental health professional in a safe and controlled environment.
The major benefits of family therapy include:
1. A much better understanding of healthy boundaries and family patterns and dynamics.
2. Strengthen communication.
3. Improved issue solving.
4. Strong empathy.
5. Reduces conflict and better anger management skills.
More specifically, family therapy may improve the relationships of a family member through:
1. Bringing the family members together after a crisis.
2. Creating honesty among the family members.
3. Inculcating trust in family members.
4. Developing a supportive family environment among each other.
5. Reducing sources of tension and stress within the family members.
6. Helping family members to forgive each other.
Family therapy can enhance skills that are required for healthy family functioning, including conflict resolution, communication, and problem-solving. Improving these skills for each and every member of the family increases the potential for a positive outcome in overcoming or addressing family problems. In family therapy, the focus is on providing all family members with the tools they need to heal themselves.