Family counselling also called family therapy is focused more on the family and issues arising from within the family system. This therapy is designed to help families learn new ways of communicating more effectively which will enhance and strengthen their closeness. Family counselling does not necessarily mean that all of the family members on involved in the therapy. Not all members need to be present to be working from a family systems perspective. Families may choose to pursue counselling when their are transitions within the family or life difficulties are beyond their normal ability to cope. There may also be historical issues from the parents childhood that are impacting the family now.
Family counselling helps to create a trusting safe relationship between the therapist and the family. A sense of comfort with the therapist is of the utmost importance as you will be sharing intimate details of your life. Each family member is encouraged to share any concerns that they have. The counsellor works together with all family members to create a treatment plan and goals.
Both the therapist and family work together to come up with goals. After developing goals the therapist will assist the family in looking at their issues from an outside perspective. The therapist will facilitate new communication by providing different skills training and strategies. The family practice the skills both in the session and between sessions, reporting back successes and challenges. This feedback helps to reinforce new learning and align the family in their goals. Although it can be challenging to change our patterns of communications it leads to growth and change.
What to expect
The therapeutic hour is typically 50 minutes. Therapy can be short term i.e. 2- 8 sessions or longer term i.e. two months up to a year or more depending on the issues to be explored. More complex issues will take longer. Usually appointments are booked weekly, however we are aware that sometimes financial obligations makes it difficult to come as frequently and we work with you to make it work for you. Also much of the work is done outside of the session once skills are developed and insights gained.
When the family feels that their goals have been met and they are able to maintain new patterns of ‘being in the world’ therapy is complete. Many families and individuals within the family do, however, like to come back less frequently for ‘tune ups’ or when new difficulties or life transitions present themselves. Clients may return even years after having not needing the services. Sometimes one or more of the family members decide that they would like to pursue individual therapy because of issues arising from the family work. The client may choose to continue with the present counsellor or start personal work with a new counsellor.