Family is derived from the Latin word ‘familia’, meaning ‘household’. This essentially translates to an environment where you are surrounded by people you have known from the start, sharing the same roof. But, what happens when the same area of security grows to be a threatening situation where you no longer feel safe? While a family is supposed to offer you security and confidence, there are times when the same people might grow to be a source of terror for you. With the growing age of awareness, more and more cases of abuse well within the roofs of a household are brought to light. Like, it is said, the most horrible of monsters usually reside in your own home and haunt you endlessly. It is not surprising that maximum cases of sexual abuse of small children are conducted in the ‘sanctuary’ of their homes by the closest members of the family.
Despite the various undesirable issues that have been reported, one cannot deny the fact that we all need our families. This is the single unit of care, where we all can fall back upon. Good people come from great families. We all know that it is within the confines of our homes that we learn to love, be compassionate, and show care. While, for many, these are the words that do not mean much, but they go a long way in building the strongest character. The attributes of the basic display of humanity is what defines the basic human nature. It is necessary to be nurtured to be able to ‘feel’ the pain of the fellow human. What we mostly skip to understand is the fact that one needs to ‘learn’ or be exposed to a certain human trait to be able to show or express it in their own lives.
As they say ‘if you have been loved, it is only then that you can love’. So, what goes wrong, within this wonderful place of happiness, that causes many people to flee home altogether or even hurt the very people who have given life to them? How do you explain cases where adolescent children end up murdering their entire families in their sleep? Well, some problems need attention before they can escalate and emerge into problems of unimaginable outcomes. This is when you know you need to go for the ‘Family Counselling’.
What is Family Counseling?
Family counseling is a series of sessions that take place to address or diagnose the problems within the realms of a family unit. This is a psychotherapy treatment, done under the supervision of an expert for them to be able to analyze the underlying problem and offer accurate solutions. Want to know more? Click Here.
These sessions are usually provided at designated places of the profession by the psychologist, licensed therapist, or clinical social worker. The sessions vary according to the requirement of the family problem. These might include just an individual or other members of the family concerned with the issue. The main aim of the family counseling sessions is to be able to offer the right solutions that will help bring to light the main issue of concern. The sessions include talk therapy, exercises, and positive inputs that need to be implemented by the participating member of the family. Most of the time, the main reason for the problem is simply ignorance or being taken for granted.
This cognitive therapy includes various techniques of application, to help resolve the issue. These techniques often include the involvement of an individual or a group of people involved likewise. You know you have a problem when you observe your child to develop a behavior you never suspected to crop up. There are problems to deal with when you observe a member of the family behave strangely or develop strange habits out of the blue. While talking to the concerned member might solve, most often it backfires as well. This is the point when the professional has to step in and ‘pull the plug’ on the issue.
Speaking in general terms, the word family is not just confined to blood relatives but it also expands to other related members who might have a hand in the issue. Likewise, there are parts of the exercises that need to call upon the supportive members of the family who have a vital role to play either in the problem or its solution. Family therapy has various forms and kinds, let us take a look at each of them briefly:
- Bowenian: This includes two dimensions, i.e Triangulation, and differentiation. This is a therapy that usually does not involve any other member of the family. The former includes talk-therapy, where the solution is in being able to talk out the problems on their own. The latter includes the art to learn how to become less reactive to family problems.
- Structural: This form of family therapy involves the technique to put the boundaries to place. This is necessary when the parents are not in charge of the situation and requires the setting up of the boundaries. Here, the therapist physically joins the structure of the family to observe how it works to point out the main source of the problem.
- Systematic: This is the therapy that includes analyzing the ‘behavioral’ mode of communication within the family. Here, the therapist is a distant observant who simply sits by and watches as the members talk about their problems.
- Strategic: This is a more direct and authoritative approach of the therapist where homework or assignments are allotted. This helps them to develop their behaviors or fix their problems through the application of certain ‘action’.
What Happens During Family Counseling And How It Works?
The role of a family therapist is all-important and precise. This expert is trained in the art of understanding the various issues and also constructively recognizing them. The family therapist is trained in dealing with a wide variety of individual and family-related issues:
- Substance abuse
- Child and Adolescent behavioral problem
- Domestic Violence
- Marital conflicts
The therapist can apply any of the methods of therapy as mentioned above depending upon the problem in hand. The basic steps applied during the sessions includes:
- To observe the behavior of the members when within the family unit
- To be able to offer the right evaluation that can resolve the problems
- To be able to diagnose and offer the right solutions to the individual
- To be able to offer the right kind of guidance when the family is undergoing a tough phase.
- To be able to highlight the problem within the family at the right time and manner
- To offer healthier options to the dysfunctional behaviors
- To be able to offer a holistic approach to wellness.
Issues That can Be Resolved During Family Counseling
The family therapy goes a long way in reviving the old relationship bonds and helping the new ones find their anchor. There are times when we want the involvement of a third party to help us to loosen up where we are stuck. There are various advantages of family counseling and also much recommended in many cases. There are various issues within the family that can be resolved through therapy such as:
- Depression: Many times a family member suffers through depression and the family is lost about how to deal with it. This is where a mental health specialist will offer you the best manner in which to :
- Expect out of a situation
- Deal with it in a safe manner
- Resolve in a manner that it offers a long term effect
- Substance Abuse: This is yet another rapidly growing issue amongst the families in both urban and rural settings. Increased indulgence in drugs has led to massive fall-outs and broken homes. This is where it is required to confront the issue and have a permanent positive solution. If not handled properly, the victim can hurt themselves or the others in their homes. This where a professional steps in to offer the most effective and reliable solutions to help extract the person from their habit and help them lead a safe life.
- Childhood Trauma: Most of the time, the problems lie in the very beginning of the victim’s life. There are cases where behavioral issues could be mapped back to their early childhood. While a family might not be able to point out the problem, a relationship expert will be able to easily recognize the issue and also offer solutions likewise.
Impact Of Family Counseling On Us
Many cultures place parents at par with the gods, they are worshipped. There are also cultures across countries where a perfectly flawed male-kind is asked to be worshipped by his wife. While these ‘rituals’ and beliefs are good to talk about, if not checked, these are the very sources of abuse. Why work hard when you are already on a pedestal? How are you being questioned? After all your word is ‘the word’ of God himself?
On the other hand, some cultures are too free to be questioned at all. These are the ‘freedom of expression’ kinds where no boundaries, rules or rituals are even spoken about. You live like an individual within a family system and soon enough you start to operate independently only to finally ‘break free’ from the flimsy thresholds of the so-called family. Both the systems of extreme reality is the norm in the world today. But surprisingly the collateral damage that they cause within the family is much similar. This is where family counseling is required, to be able to point out the boundaries and the lack of it in some cases.
Family counseling offers a holistic approach to deal with the issues of problems within the system. This is necessary if you are looking for a long-term problem, as solutions are offered well-within the realms of a safe and controlled environment. The mental health professional is a trained individual who knows how to handle a situation, diagnose accordingly and thus, solve the problem.
Benefits of Consulting a Family Therapist
- Improved communications between the members
- To be able to respect the right kind of boundaries and healthy patterns
- To involve in proper problem-solving tactics
- To develop a better sense of empathy
- To develop better anger management skills and reduce conflicts.
The other noticed benefits of the family therapy sessions also includes:
- Dealing with a family crisis or a period of grievance
- To be able to develop honesty between the members.
- To emerge positivity when dealing with trust issues within the members
- To be able to offer an environment of support between one another
- To be able to reduce the sources of stress, conflicts and fights within the family
- The therapy also helps develop the art of practicing forgiveness, a forgotten gift
- To be able to resolve a long impending problem and conflict with in the family
- To be able to re-introduce the forgotten or lost family members back into the system
Overall, family therapy is not necessarily an indication of an illness. It is to be taken as an upgrade to a better resolution. One must not be embarrassed about seeking help from a professional who is well-trained in offering precise solutions. After all, the world is full of examples of the most bizarre kinds, where nothing manages to surprise or upset them. So, in a way you are safe to express the deepest of your fears and experiences in front of a professional and not be judged.
Therapy Practices & Procedures
Usually, the therapy session involves various forms of exercises and techniques that are used to offer a fabric of safety. The solutions are usually sought out by the members themselves through the implementations of these suggestions and instructions. Most of the time, it is simply a matter of realizing that needs to be put to light which helps the family resolve its problems effectively. Let us take a look at some of the most effective exercises followed during a family therapy session:
- The Miracle Question: This is designed to help the family envision their future in a manner that they perceive to be appropriate. Here, the therapist asks a key question to the member or all the involved members of the family. The answer to this question depicts the expectation, the problem, and what is required as a solution.
This in a way is an auto-setting, where the members themselves go through steps of realization as they speak out the answers to the ‘miracle question’. This also helps expose the hidden agenda at times, and helping deal with it becomes a lot easier.
- Colored Candy Go Around: This is a rather fun activity, where the family members are asked to spell out their problems in a light-hearted setup. The activity involves the colored candies being distributed amongst all the participating family members. They are then asked to count and show the number of candies of each color that they have got. Now, they need to answer questions corresponding to the colors.
- Green- Describe your family in a single word
- Orange- Things you would suggest to improve in your family
- Red- Things about your family that bother you
- Purple- The manners in which your family has fun
- Yellow- Your most favorite memories with your family
By the end of the Colored candy go round session, a lot has been spoken about to be pondered about. The rounds are exercised by each family member where they express their version of the answers. This puts to perspective a lot about family dynamics and what might be the main issues. The best part about the session is that in a fun manner a lot is spoken about, which would rather be well kept in silence. At the end of the session, a discussion takes place within the family where basic questions are answered and a lot of solutions are offered. This is fun, safe and a great way to break the ice in a manner that you seek out the solutions yourself.
- The Emotions Ball: This is yet another great method to be able to talk out or express oneself in a manner you would never do normally. This is effective in having a child or a teenager speak their hearts out or express what is on their minds. Here, the activity includes a beach ball, where single word emotions are written all over the ball. The family members are asked to sit around in a circle and have them throw the ball around to each other. Whenever the ball is caught by a member, they have to talk about the emotions they are facing, to the rest of the crowd. This way all the members get to talk about their feelings and thus, express themselves to the rest of the family. This is a great exercise to be able to get the ‘ball rolling’ to detect a problem. The therapist analyzes the entire exercise and then diagnoses the problem accordingly. The solutions are spelled out through the session, which helps the stuck-up family issue.
- The Mirror Activity: Many times, the main culprit in a family dispute is the lack of attention, cooperation, and care towards each other. This might sound ‘lame’ but this is one of the basic issues and goes a long way in damaging the relationship ties. Simply, put, we tend to take one another for granted and this damages the family ties to the extent of being broken.
The activity requires any two family members to stand facing one another and have them mirror each other’s actions. This is a great manner to give your complete attention, offer cooperation, and develop a certain kind of synchronization between each other. This helps develop bonds and also revive old sparks in a relationship. It is strange, but a simple act of being able to look at one another in the eye without feeling embarrassed goes a long way in bonding together.