Family counseling is a form of psychotherapy that can promote understanding within the family and strengthen relationships. This form of counseling can be specific to an incident or an issue, or might be needed to address broader topics. When a family member suffers from a physical or mental illness, counseling can help the other family members better understand the needs of the sick individual, thus strengthening the family dynamic. All members of the family do not necessarily need to be present at each counseling session. Often, the counselor or psychologist will want to speak to family members individually to allow them to speak free from intimidation. This allows for more honest discussion of the issues, helping the psychologist to better understand the dynamics within the family.
Family counseling services can be offered by a family psychologist or by a certified counselor. Some churches also offer a form of Christian counseling to families that are members of the church. Counseling starts with a group session with all members of the family present. In this group setting, the counselor or family psychologist will do more than listen. They will also be able to witness the family dynamics how the family members talk about each other and react to each other. Quite often, the behavior during these sessions is more telling than what is actually being said.
If necessary, the counselor might request a session with one or more individual members of the family. These individual sessions are open to more honest communication, and allow the counselor to focus on individual members and how they fit into the group. Sometimes, the sessions will be help with all but one member present. This is often the case when dealing with substance abuse issues. The members of the family will discuss intervention strategies at a family counseling session that they will then use at a later date when the addicted family member is present.
At the end of the sessions, the counselor should have a better understanding of the group dynamic. Suggestions can be made through family counseling services on how to work on the issues. Most of these issues deal with communication. In more serious cases, especially where there is a history or a credible threat of violence, follow up sessions will be needed so the counselor can evaluate how well the family members are implementing the strategies and suggestions discussed at the counseling sessions.
Sometimes, all that is needed is one session. Communication is the single most important tool in keeping families together. Poor communication leads to misunderstandings that can escalate into fights that could have been prevented at the outset if the communication had not been an issue. It is common to see communication problems in families. What is not common is to see healthy families with a history of serious communication issues. Inevitably, a family that cannot communicate with each other will break down.
Family counseling keeps families together. It allows members to state their issues to a professional, who can then help diagnose the root of the problem and suggest a solution. No counseling service is ever effective, however, if the suggestions made are not implemented. Families can see their psychologist every week. But if nobody changes, then nothing changes. At least one family member needs to take the lead and show a desire to change for the good of the family. Then, other members will feel more comfortable with implementing the changes as well. Family counselors have years of training and experience at diagnosing and fixing issues. It is a wise family that takes the advice of their counselor and makes a change for the better.