When to Get Family Counseling: Family Counseling 101

Shaun Lotter, MA, LPC

Most of us put things off until we can’t any longer. If you have taken time to look at getting  family counseling, you probably already know it’s time or past time to get help.  At The Relationship Center, we know issues don’t simply go away; they just demand our attention more loudly over time. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring a problem until it becomes unmanageable. Common issues include:

  • Lack of Communication
  • Damaged and Distant Family Relationships
  • Disrespect and Defiance in Children
  • School Failure
  • Destructive Peer Relationships
  • Effective Parenting
  • Abuse and Neglect

Who Gets Family Therapy?

“Normal Families.” Often, families assume they are abnormal or lesser if they need help. We use the word “normal” as a measuring stick for our lives. However, part of living is having real challenges, and overcoming requires getting help at times. All families have difficulties. Not all families overcome.

Who Needs to Come to the Session?

Initially, your counselor will meet with all of your family together to gather information, gaining an understanding of the situation. You will be asked to consider what you want to work on. Next, he or she will make recommendations on how to proceed. He or she will likely set times to meet with children or parents individually. This can vary from family to family, taking into account the particular issues present in each case.

How Long Does Counseling Last?

The duration of counseling depends on two basic variables: extent of the problems and what you hope to accomplish. First, the extent of the issues takes into account the severity of symptoms and the extent to which healthy functioning is disrupted. Second, each family must decide what they want to accomplish. If the goal is quick alleviation of symptoms via behavioral means, the counseling intervention is generally brief. However, if core issues are not addressed, long-term problems will likely rise again. This is a “band-aid” approach. A more thorough intervention involves taking time to get to the root of the problems, not simply addressing symptoms or problem behaviors. This takes longer and is more involved, but is generally more effective long-term. It is a “surgical” approach.

What If My Child / Teenager Is Really Upset With the Idea Of Counseling?

Resistance is a norm in counseling, not a rarity. As a parent, you are often put in the position of knowing what is best and making sure this occurs. Therefore, it is no surprise that counseling is like eating vegetables, frowned upon by children although it is healthy. Your counselor is experienced at dealing with resistance and it is rarely an ongoing issue. Regardless, be encouraged. As a parent, you do not need your child’s permission to improve your family situation.

Take the first step towards a better tomorrow, today.

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