Families are complex. Each family member brings to the table his or her individual temperament and personality. With emotions running as high as they do among family members, getting along can be a challenge even in the best of circumstances. Respect, understanding, and clear communication are desirable but not always possible.
The emotional and mental health of your family unit impacts the health of its members. Also, the health of each family member affects that of the family unit. When conflict between family members arises, or the effects of a member’s illness reverberate throughout the family, relationships can become strained. Family counseling can provide an avenue for restoring (or becoming for the first time) a healthier, more harmonious family.
Improve communication and rehabilitate relationships through family counseling.
With objectives ranging from the resolution of conflict to the remedy of behavioral or social issues to the general clarification of communication, family counseling sessions seek to treat all sorts of families in a variety of circumstances, including:
- Parent-parent conflict
- Parent-child conflict
- Sibling-sibling conflict
- Blended families
- A Family Member with with special needs, mental illness, depression, or substance use issues
- Family member(s) suffering from the effects of trauma or grief
- A Combination of individual and marital issues
Family Counseling: Discovering a Solution that Suits Everyone
Families desire harmony in their relationships, but don’t know how to identify and rectify their problems. This is where family counseling comes into play. As your family therapist, I hope to help illuminate the issues that interfere with your family’s balance and suggest solutions. Family counseling objectives for your family include:
- Recognizing how your family functions
- Identifying issues and conflicts
- Assuming responsibility for problems as a family
- Working together to resolve challenges
- Developing new approaches to old issues
- Setting and reaching family goals
In family counseling you can learn about yourself, each other, and how your family operates.
The goal in family counseling sessions is to promote new understanding among family members as well as skills to handle both current and future problems within the family. Your family has its own unique set of strengths that will enable it to resolve its conflicts and issues. We will set goals that strive toward an increase in your family’s empathy and appreciation for one another.
Family therapy sessions aim to resolve your family’s conflicts, stabilize its environment, and improve its relationships. I believe your family possesses the unique strengths and resources to foster healing. Some of the areas addressed in family therapy sessions include:
- Negative Impact of Marital Problems on Children – Poor communication, continuous conflict, and alienation between parents can affect a child’s sense of security, feelings of self-worth, personal behavior, vulnerability to bad influences, and performance in school. Family therapy can address your marital issues and suggest strategies for minimizing their negative effects on your children.
- Strain of Parent-Child Problems on the Marriage – The demands of parenting challenging children can interfere with your relationship with your spouse, resulting in feelings of frustration, abandonment, resentment, and guilt. Family therapy seeks to facilitate understanding between spouses and suggest techniques for working together to resolve parent-child issues.
- Sibling Relationships – In instances of constant conflict with little hope of resolution, family therapy provides a means of establishing respect and understanding between siblings, as well as skills to resolve future problems.
- Making Blended Families Work – Blended families often do not function in the same way as biological families. Family therapy can assist your step-family in adjusting and establishing healthy relationships and appropriate boundaries.
- Balancing Family Roles – An imbalance among your work, your role as a parent, and that as a spouse can create resentment and tension in families. Family therapy helps identify when an imbalance exists and suggest techniques for equalizing your roles.
- Children with Special Needs – The challenges and obstacles facing families of children with special needs can be overwhelming. Family therapy can facilitate communication, suggest coping and parenting skills, and connect your family with local resources.
- Coping with Aging Parents – The sacrifices and emotional demands of caring for aging parents can strain a marriage and create a tension your whole family can feel. In family therapy members can express their feelings about the situation and work toward supporting one another.
- Caring for Chronically Ill Partners – Caring for ill spouses or partners can be physically and emotionally draining and result in complex feelings of fear, anxiety, guilt, and resentment. Family therapy provides an outlet for expressing your emotions and offers coping techniques.
- Difficulty in Transitions – A change that impacts the whole family like moving, the birth of a new child, or the financial changes of a new job can affect each member of your family differently. Family therapy can bring to light any family member’s difficulty in transition and offer coping strategies.
- Grief/Loss – No two family members react to death and other experiences of loss in exactly the same way or grieve according to the same timeline. Family therapy can illuminate where each member of your family is in his/her mourning, offer grief counseling or loss therapy, and facilitate understanding and support in this difficult time.
- Substance Abuse – Family therapy can help you cope with instances of addiction and the resultant serious effect a family member’s substance abuse has on your family unit.
- Discipline and Structure for Children – Discipline problems put a big strain on parent-child relationships and can cause or worsen existing marital problems. Lack of structure weakens a child’s sense of security. Family therapy seeks to improve your parent-child communication and suggest parenting techniques.
- Difficult Adolescents/Teens – Family therapy can help identify why kids and teens act out or have problems in school. Once the source of the problem is detected, strategies for remedying the issue can be suggested.
- Failure of Child to Launch Out of the Home – Certain variables contribute to a child’s reluctance to move from his parents’ home and begin his own life. Family therapy can determine the reasons behind your child’s failure to launch, address his fears and anxieties and promote new confidence in looking toward the future.
Step Family Counseling
Whether you call them step-families, blended families, or bonus families, people who join together already existing families have lots of challenges accompanying the joy family life can bring. Counseling can help. Ideally, couples will come to counseling prior to combining their families. Being proactive helps smooth out the rough spots in the first months and as the children age. I use the word “children” to include adult children. Sometimes we don’t consider that they may have issues also, when a parent re-marries.
If you have already blended (there doesn’t seem to be one great word for doing this) your families, counseling can help address and correct the troubles that have developed. It’s never too late to undo misunderstandings and hurt feelings. These can be between the biological parent and spouse, the biological parent and kids, the step parent and step kids, the step kids from each parent and any number of combinations including extended family and ex’s.
Common Issues that Arise
- Children’s allegiance to the biological parent, whether new family was formed through divorce or death of a parent.
- Joining families too quickly and disappointment that things didn’t go smoothly.
- Varying emotions, from anger, sadness, frustrations, jealousy, hurt feelings, anxiety over parent sharing love with others, guilt in preferring step parent to bio parent, etc.
- Communication styles and habits.
- Discipline styles and beliefs.
- Money, allowances, loans, etc.
- Yours, mine, and what about “ours?”
- Parenting roles and style differences.
- Extended family members.
- And many more!