The Benefits of Family Counselling

The Benefits of Family Counselling

Family Therapy or Family Counselling is a form of group therapy that addresses the behaviours of all family members and the way they affect not only individual family members but also relationships among family members and the family as a whole. The therapy sessions are usually divided between time spent on individual therapy, time spent on couple therapy, and family therapy, as considered appropriate.

The range of behavioural and psychological problems addressed by family counselling include marital and couple conflict, parent-child conflict, alcohol or drug abuse, grief, distress, eating disorders, children’s behaviour problems, and issues with caring for the elderly, such as coping with a parent’s or grandparent’s existing medical condition like Alzheimer’s or dementia. The Family counsellor also works with other mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, or trauma experienced by a family member and the impact these issues have on the family.

1. Family therapy is “brief” therapy.

Family therapy usually lasts no longer than 8-12 sessions which include both individual and group sessions. Family therapy does not take a long time and is usually “brief” therapy.

2. Family therapists work collaboratively with parents as a team.

One common misconception about family therapy is that the therapist tends to blame the parent for their child’s problems. Instead, family therapy is centered around the concept of “joining”, where the therapist respects and listens carefully to every member of the family. The therapist might ask the parents to make certain changes in their parenting style such as being consistent about rules, not arguing in front of the child, etc.

3. Family therapy includes individual, group and couple counselling sessions

Most people think that family therapy means having the entire family in the room for every session, but that is not the case. There are certain sessions where the entire family is present, but that is not required for most of the sessions. The family therapist might prefer to work with mainly the parents or the siblings or even schedule individual sessions with a teen facing difficulty - this is done according to case to case basis.

4. Family therapy is effective because it harnesses the power of the family to heal itself.

A family therapist works with the notion that each person is not merely an individual, but is also a part of multiple social groups or social systems. A child’s behavior is influenced by the people in his social groups: their parents and siblings, teachers and friends.The family therapist focuses on identifying the main problem areas and then deliberately making a change in the system to achieve the fastest change in behaviour and relationships within the family. By making carefully targeted changes in the social context, the family therapist can be very effective at resolving a family member’s troubled feelings or behaviour.

Family Counselling: What to Expect

Family Therapy is normally short-term therapy consisting of solution-focused sessions. Though it is “brief therapy”, more sessions may be required, depending on the nature and severity of the existing problems. In couple counselling, the therapist will begin by meeting with the couple and then proceed to spend some time with each individual. In family
begin by meeting with the entire family and then meet separately with the parents or individual family members. The first couple of sessions are generally for information gathering, so the therapist can learn more about the problems that brought them to therapy, get the thoughts, opinions and issues of everyone involved, and observe the family dynamics.

One should get a clear sense of the family therapist’s role and competency, the goals of therapy, and if there are any rules and boundaries to be observed during the course of
counselling sessions, such as who should attend which sessions and whether confidentiality should be maintained for information shared between and among family members and the therapist. Over time, individual goals and family roles and behaviors that contribute to conflicts will become more apparent as the therapist identifies specific challenges and the family members collaboratively explore ways to actively resolve issues. When it comes to family therapy, it is important to work with someone everyone in the family is able to trust and feel comfortable working within a counselling environment.