All in the Family – When Family Counseling is a Good Idea

when is family counseling a good idea?

Family counseling is a form of therapy that is optimized to address specific issues that affect the health and function of a family. It is especially useful when a mental illness or behavioral problem is occurring in a family member who is a teen or young adult. Sometimes such issues cannot be successfully addressed without understanding the dynamics of the entire family unit.

Are There Different Types of Family Counseling?

Family counseling employs techniques and exercises that are also used in other kinds of therapy – behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, individual therapy, and interpersonal therapy. The strategies employed will depend on the specific issues the young person and the family present with.

What is Meant by the Term “Family”?

It should be noted that in family counseling, the term “family” does not necessarily mean that only blood relatives are included in the counseling sessions. In terms of getting the best help, “family” is anyone who is playing a long-term supportive role in the individual’s life.

What Training Does a Family Counselor Have?

Because families are highly complex units that differ greatly, a family counselor is called upon to assume many different roles. Because of the high stakes involved, a family therapist is required to have undergone the right kind of education, and extensive training and testing to ensure that the therapist is up to the task and does not cause more harm than good. To counsel families, therapists must know how to:

  • Understand interactions within the family unit.
  • Evaluate and resolve relationship issues.
  • Diagnose and treat psychological disorders within the context of a family.
  • Guide clients through transitional crises, e.g., divorce or bereavement.
  • Teach replacement of dysfunctional behavior patterns with healthy alternatives.
  • Take a holistic approach to wellness.

What Does Family Therapy Aim to Achieve?

The goal of family therapy is to work together to heal any behavioral, mental, emotional, or psychological issues that are disrupting the family unit. The aim is to produce a healthier family environment for all family members by improving understanding and communication to help solve family problems. While individual counseling concentrates on working with one individual, the family counselor views problems in the context of the “system” of the family. To solve a problem in a system, all parts of the system must be considered.

What are the Benefits of Family Therapy?

The benefits of family therapy are many, and include:

  • A better understanding of family patterns, dynamics and healthy boundaries.
  • Deeper empathy, enhanced communication skills, and improved problem solving.
  • Better anger management skills and reduced conflict.
  • Bringing the family closer together after a crisis.
  • Creating honesty and instilling trust between family members.
  • Reducing sources of tension and stress and developing a more supportive family environment.
  • Resolving conflicts between family members and helping them forgive each other.
  • Bringing members who have been isolated back into the family fold.

A Take Home Message

Family counseling can help you and your family learn how to effectively communicate with each other, work together to solve family problems, and build and maintain healthy family relationships. This type of therapy is unique in that problems are viewed through a broad lens and as part of the complex system that is the family. This perspective allows family counselors to help families get to the root of their problems and facilitates healing for everyone involved.

“Why family therapy…because it deals with family pain.”
– Virginia Satir, a key figure in the development of family therapy.

Family Counseling in Phoenix

It’s important to understand that an individual family member’s problems do not exist in a vacuum; they exist in the context of the family and will likely need to be addressed within that context. At Doorways, we help families who are experiencing problems relating to a family member aged 13-25. Our trained family counselors help troubled families to learn how to better communicate with each other in a nonjudgmental, caring, atmosphere. So, if you need help for your family, please reach out to us and schedule an initial no-charge consultation. There is help for your family!


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