3 Steps to Take Before Your First Family Counseling Visit

Apr 04, 2023

3 Steps to Take Before Your First Family Counseling Visit

Life comes with challenges, and they can affect individuals and families alike. When facing these issues, therapy can help foster understanding, improve communication, and build supportive relationships within family units. Here’s how to prepare.

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.

When to consider family counseling

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:

  • Addressing specific issues, like financial or marital problems
  • Talking through the impact of mental illness or substance use on the family
  • Resolving conflict between parents and children or siblings
  • Coping with the death of a loved one

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 anxietybipolar disorder, or depression.

How to prepare for your family counseling session

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:

1. Write down questions or issues you’d like to discuss.

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.

2. Think carefully about what you’d like to say.

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.

3. Practice staying calm, strong, and respectful.

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.

Ready to see if your family could benefit from counseling? Contact Associates in Behavioral Science to schedule a consultation today.