It’s easy to think of counseling sessions as something that happens between one person and a therapist. However, there are numerous issues and situations that can affect an entire family unit — even when, at first glance, it seems like it only impacts one person. That’s how family counseling can help.
Our team at Associates in Behavioral Science in Berwyn, Illinois knows that healthy communication doesn’t come easy, especially when it involves those closest to us — our families. Fortunately, family therapy sessions with an experienced counselor can help loved ones solve problems, rebuild connections, and nurture healthy family dynamics.
Curious to see how family counseling works? Here’s what you can expect and how to prepare for your first visit.
The short answer is that anyone can benefit from family counseling. This form of therapy aims to help people in a family unit (whether blood relations or not), resolve conflicts, improve communication, and deepen connections.
Family therapy can help in a variety of situations, such as:
In many cases, people participate in family counseling for a short time. It can involve everyone in the family or simply the ones willing and able to participate. Family counseling can also be used in combination with treatment plans, like rehabilitation for substance use and one-on-one therapy for a mental health disorder like anxiety, bipolar disorder, or depression.
Heading into a family counseling session can feel daunting — and it’s okay to feel that way. Just remember that your therapist is there to create a safe and supportive environment for your family to work through issues, conflicts, and tough emotions.
Our team also recommends taking these three steps to prepare for your appointment:
It’s easy to forget important things in the moment, so take some time before your session to jot down specific items you’d like to address. This can help keep you focused during your counseling session and ensure you can discuss top-of-mind items.
Sharing how you feel is hard, especially if you find members of your family challenging. Unfortunately, this can also lead conversations to escalate unintentionally.
Fortunately, it can help you communicate your thoughts and feelings more clearly if you think about them in advance. You can even write them down so you can refer back to them during your family counseling session.
Your therapist is there to guide the conversation during your family counseling session. However, that doesn’t mean emotions may not run high. In fact, family relationships can sometimes cause some of life’s biggest conflicts, spanning decades.
But in the midst of all this, it’s essential to try to stay calm, respectful, and open. This approach can help pinpoint the specific challenges your family faces, learn healthy new ways to interact with each other, and set goals for yourselves and your family.
Family counseling won’t solve your problems overnight, but it can help build a greater understanding of one another and give you the skills you need to face challenges in a more effective way.