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Learning More About Family Counseling

Feb 25, 2008
Family counseling is a form of psychotherapy that helps families with the goal of improving their relationships and work through problems and incidents in a non threatening, impartial setting. Issues such as divorce, the death of a family member, conflicts as a result of a move, an addition to the family ie a new step parent and or step child, and others can create problems and uncomfortable situations for all family members involved, which is why family counseling is such an important tool.

The principal goal of the therapist during these sessions is to observe the interaction between family members. If a heated conflict occurs, the therapist will ask each person to describe their feelings and emotions and will ask other family members how they are coping with the disagreement and how they feel each family member is dealing with the situation. Observations made by the therapist are designed to help point out poor communication skills, and the effects of the behavior on others.

The therapist may also identify reasons why a family is unable to work through issues and conflicts on their own, including family members with underlying mental conditions, alcohol, or chemical dependencies. People with these types of issues often require additional individual counseling sessions geared towards helping them recognize, treat, and cope with these often debilitating conditions.

Within a traditional family counseling session, common issues discussed include providing and maintaining structures and boundaries, school related issues, including self esteem, bullying, and failing grades, arguing and fighting, temper tantrum, and learning how to balance distance and love. Boundaries in a family are defined as artificial lines that inidicate limits. When these boundaries are undefined or non distinct, communication breakdowns can occur that can severely impact family life for everyone involved.

Family counselors gage the boundaries or lack of boundaries within a family by examining the currently existing communication patterns between members. Questions such as how stable is the family during life style transitions, and how well do they handle change become very important during this assessment period.

Counseling sessions may be conducted with the entire family each week, or with the parents one week and the children the next. Some counselors prefer to see female family members one week and male family members another, depending on the individual dynamics of the family. Regardless of the type of counseling chosen, all concerned should know that by simply admitting that a problem exists and working to change it, they are taking the first step towards building healthy familial relationships and setting a good example for the other family members as well.
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For more information about family counseling, view family treatment
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