Family counseling, also known as family therapy, is provided by a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and is designed to help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. Family counseling addresses specific issues that affect the psychological health of the family, such as major life transitions or mental health conditions. It can be used as the primary treatment approach or as a complementary feature to another type of counseling like individual counseling.
Family counseling is typically a short term treatment, often as few as nine sessions, and is solution-focused. Meetings are often held once per week and typically last for 50 minutes. The number of family members who attend each session may vary, depending upon the counseling goals. Family counseling is conducted in a variety of settings including family counseling services, community agencies, and residential treatment centers, depending upon the needs of the family.
Counseling can be beneficial to families who are experiencing stressful events; such as financial hardship, divorce, or the death of a loved one. It can also be helping to a family unit being impacted by the struggles of one of its members; for example, depression, substance abuse, and chronic illness. Finally, family counseling can help family deal more effectively with everyday concerns; like communication problems, interpersonal conflict, or behavioral problems in children and adolescents.
The overall goal of family counseling aims is to promote understanding and cooperation among the family unit as a whole to support or solve the problems of one or more of its individuals. For example, if a child is having social problems, then the family counseling would focus on the family patterns that may contribute to the child’s acting out rather than evaluating the child’s behavior alone. As the source of the family’s problems is uncovered, then the other family members can learn effective tools to support the child and minimize the conditions that contribute to the child’s social problems.
There are a variety of approaches to family counseling; but, all approaches encompass the following common goals: improve communication, increase problem-solving, augment coping skills, and enhance the sense of connection to one another.
The team at Collaborate Counseling utilizes emotion-focused family therapy (EFFT) to achieve these goals. The essence of emotion-focused family therapy is to afford caregivers a significant role in their loved one’s mental health and well-being. The counselor’s role would be to empower and support caregivers in mastering the skills, tasks, and feelings involved in four main domains:
- Becoming a behavior coach for their loved one – Assisting their loved one, regardless of age, in the interruption of symptoms and maladaptive behaviors (anxiety, depression, an eating disorder, etc…) as well as in the transition out of stressful life events
- Becoming an emotion coach for their loved one – Supporting their loved one to successful approach, process, and manage daily stress, emotions and emotional pain
- Becoming a repair coach for their loved one – Facilitating the repair of relationships and the healing of possible wounds from the child or family’s past in order to help the loved one to let go of old injuries
- Becoming an objective coach – This last step is necessary when the loved ones fears and obstacles interfere with the parent or caregiver’s ability to be effective in their efforts; thus, forcing the caregiver to step back and seek additional help.
A family is a larger “WE” composed of different ages, experiences, priorities and stresses. At Collaborate Counseling, we are here to help families improve their communication skills and resolve conflicts before irreparably damaging the “WE” of the family. We will always treat you and your family with the utmost respect, integrity and confidentially. We are truly here for you. Contact us today to get started.