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The Amazing Benefits of Marriage and Family Counseling

Aug 17, 2007
Family problems can cause untold suffering and emotional problems. They can lead to depression, anxiety and even substance abuse. These problems are often very complex so timeliness can be crucial to a good counseling outcome -the sooner therapy is started, the better.

Conflicts like these often cause people to seek psychological or marriage counseling. However, they usually procrastinate, making a beneficial outcome more difficult. Find a therapist who provides an appointment within 7 days. Leveraging motivation by using immediacy in obtaining treatment is crucial to a good result.

Married couples can experience problems because of physical or mental health problems in either person, or in one of their children. Parent-child problems can also create turmoil. For these reasons, it can be helpful if your therapist is a psychologist; psychologists can administer diagnostic tests which can get to the heart of any psychiatric or mental health problems.

It's important that the spouses or family members stay in therapy long enough to get a substantive benefit. Treatment must be affordable. Family members can secure limited services through Employee Assistance Programs offered through the workplace. These services are typically free and are offered through the Human Resources Dept.

If counseling involves the treatment of psychological disorder(s), health benefits plans will pay for all or some of it. In this instance, seek a therapist who only requires the co-payment at each visit.

Some require that you pay the entire fee, only to be reimbursed later based on the amount your insurance company eventually pays. This is not the standard of practice in the era of managed care; pay only the co-pay. Your therapist should wait for the balance of the payment through the insurance company.

Of course, your responsibility is to do all you can to facilitate that payment by providing the insurance company with any requested information. Respond to such inquiries promptly so your counselor will get paid.

Testing is considered part of an assessment- the first stage of counseling. During this stage the therapist is evaluating the current status of the problems. What are they? He evaluates communication patterns, built-in biases and stereotypes, the existence of psychiatric dysfunctions, problem-solving skills and the levels of empathy that are demonstrated by family members.

Communication and discipline problems between parents and children are very common and can make marital problems even worse. Divorce and the creation of stepfamilies also create difficulties. Often, the couple itself is the problem because of poor communication, continuous conflict, alienation, sexual problems or even in-law problems.

Problems like these often lead to adjustment issues. Since the family relationships are central to the problem, it may be necessary to change their underlying dynamics. A family therapist often provides marriage counseling or family therapy to address these issues as well as to help parents improve their parenting skills. Sometimes multiple problems exist such as, depression in one family member, plus conflict in the marriage itself.

The second stage of treatment is the goal-setting stage. At this stage, the counselor and family members specify behavioral changes towards which to work. These can include increase in levels of demonstrated empathy, the use of negotiation techniques, the demonstration of positive reinforcement and appreciation and the more frequent use of forgiveness.

The last stage of counseling is implementation. This stage includes the development of a plan of action to get the family members from where they are to where they WANT to be. Several counseling approaches may be necessary in these circumstances, including interpersonal and empathy training, cognitive modification and role playing and role reversal. The therapist may ask the clients to use diaries, logs, charts, graphs etc to practice specific the new behavioral skills in their everyday lives.

Does the counselor ever see an individual family member separately from the family sessions? Only infrequently, will a psychologist provide individual psychotherapy to one member of the family, and simultaneously treat the whole family or the couple. However, one exception is that treatment related to child behavior problems will often include individual sessions with the parents to impart parenting skills.

However, these sessions are designed to help with parenting skills only. While it is possible to provide individual psychotherapy to two family members separately, psychologists evaluate its possible effectiveness on a per case basis.

Psychologists who provide family therapy or marriage counseling often have received specialized training in family counseling theory and in family and marriage therapy skills. When you contact a psychologist for family or marriage counseling, do not hesitate to ask about his/her training in marriage and family therapy techniques.
About the Author
Dr Shery is in Cary, IL, near Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Marengo and Lake-in-the-Hills. He's an expert marriage counselor and psychologist. Call 1 847 516 0899 and make an appt or learn more about counseling at: http://www.nextdayappointment.com
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