Counselling can help to resolve a range of relationship issues within a family. Every family has a unique dynamic but any relationships can be affected by certain events and circumstances. These can include bereavement, divorce, and remarriage, or moving to a new location.

Family counselling can help families understand how individual problems impact them as a unit. If a family member is experiencing mental illness or substance abuse, counselling can reveal to them how these issues have affected their family as well as themselves.

Long-standing issues within a family can be resolved with the help of counselling. Family relationships can be complicated. There could be instances of jealousy or resentment.

What are the benefits of family counselling?

Many people prefer to discuss certain topics with people outside of their family. While a person may go to their relatives for most problems there may be certain areas or truths which they find difficult to say to their family members. Most individuals can identify subjects they are not comfortable discussing with their family. We may feel as though we cannot be our ‘true’ selves around our family, for fear of conflict or disappointment. Counselling encourages us to express ourselves without fear of criticism or judgement.

People are in one-on-one counselling can speak openly about all of the emotions they hold for their family members. In counselling, people can have an open dialogue with their family about their relationships with one another.

When family members are experiencing problems, they may try to ‘escape’ the family unit with certain behaviours. They could be spending extra time at work or with friends. They may also consider drinking, substance abuse or even conducting an extra-marital affair. Counselling helps families confront difficult subjects rather than resorting to self-destructive behaviour.

Through counselling, families can learn skills such as listening, communication, and respecting boundaries. Expressing their honest feelings can help them understand their role within the family. A professional psychotherapist will ensure they understand the individual circumstances affecting a family. This is so they can recommend which specific treatment they feel will be the most effective.

Psychoanalytic family therapy

Understanding family relationships are pivotal to psychoanalytic therapy. Early family experiences are formative for our personality. They can also affect our likelihood to develop psychological problems.

Psychoanalytic family therapy focuses on how unconscious behaviours can cause rifts in families. These often manifest from internal conflicts that are embedded in a family’s history. Parents can project certain feelings onto their children, which often stem from how they were raised.

The goal is to identify the origins of problems. Resolving these problems can bring a renewed sense of a person’s place within their family. This can be a lengthy but highly effective process. It is particularly suited for families suffering from severe or deep-seated issues.

The role of the psychotherapist is to facilitate conversations about what families feel is the root cause of conflict. Their professional guidance can help unlock repressed feelings, and identify certain behavioural patterns.

If you feel as though you or your family could benefit from psychoanalytic psychotherapy, you can learn more about it here.

Systemic family psychotherapy

Systemic family psychotherapy puts an emphasis on the family as a whole. All families will have periods of conflict. Some families, however, have a particular difficulty understanding each other. Systemic family psychotherapy encourages conversations and shared experiences. The ultimate goal is for families to achieve a greater level of empathy.

The onus is on families to work together, so they can identify and solve certain conflicts. This means it can be of particular value to families who have problems communicating. When families are experiencing problems, it is common to assign blame to a particular relative. This is not a healthy coping mechanism as it often breeds resentment. Systemic family psychotherapy encourages whole families to reflect on negative feelings and behaviour.

Do you believe systemic psychotherapy could strengthen relationships and communication in your family? You can find out more about systemic psychotherapy here.

CBT and family therapy

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has its roots in systems theory. Systems theory examines the interdependent relationships between members of a group. This theory can be used to examine how the needs, wants, and desires of a family are linked. CBT helps families examine how they perceive each other, and how this informs their behaviour.

Families can often be affected by biased or negative thought patterns. Family members may see perceive themselves to be inadequate as parents or partners. They may also feel unappreciated or undermined by the rest of their family.

Regular counselling sessions will help families develop the ability to break these patterns. The overall aim is for each person to gain a more realistic perception of their family. This process is known as cognitive restructuring. CBT helps families recognise negative thought processes, empowering them to work through them. They will then be able to see themselves and their family in a more positive light.

Do you believe you could benefit from a structured solution to day-to-day family issues? Learn more about cognitive behavioural therapy here.