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Family Counseling

There is nothing more important than the relationship you keep with your family. Families bond over common goals and successes and, if properly handled, over challenges too. However, is your family currently facing a challenge that has led to conflict rather than togetherness? Has your family dynamics become affected because of another family member’s issue? This is a common challenge that most families face.

Maybe a family member has just been diagnosed with a chronic illness, and the entire family has been thrown into disarray since the diagnosis. Often, family members are the first individuals to provide healthcare and stability to the person with the illness. This could change the way the family operates daily. Family members may face a variety of emotional difficulties like depression and anxiety.

Have you suddenly assumed the position of caregiver for your spouse or a family member, and you are feeling burnt out? Has communication become difficult after learning of the diagnosis? Or are you harboring thoughts of resentment because of how much your life and identity have changed? Do you feel a lack of attention or care for yourself? All these are normal emotions that you may experience in the face of changes to your family dynamics.

Have you considered family counseling in your struggle to get used to this new family dynamic? Although things may have changed, one thing that doesn’t have to change is the bond you share as a family. Family counseling might just be what you need to save your family.

What is family counseling?

Family counseling or family therapy is a type of psychological counseling that aims at helping family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. It is designed to help with issues that specifically affect the mental health of families and their general functioning, such as a chronic illness diagnosis for a particular family member.

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) acknowledges that chronic illness can influence family dynamics in several ways, such as:

  • The daily routine in the family unit may change based on the limitations of the person with the illness and the demands of the caregiver role.
  • If the caregiving responsibilities are not shared amongst the family, the caregiver may experience burnout and compassion fatigue.
  • Due to stress, family members may have a range of emotions, such as depression and anxiety.
  • Family members may need to work harder to maintain a sense of normalcy despite the needs of the chronic illness.

Research shows that 33 – 50% of family caregivers can experience some type of psychological distress, including a higher rate of mental health issues compared to the general population. This mental stress trickles down to the family members, who have also had to make some changes.

With family counseling, there is a chance to preserve the love and bond that marked your family before the onset of the chronic illness. Family counseling walks you and your family through the path of healing and emotional stability even as you care for your loved ones.

What does family counseling do?

Discussing unhealthy family dynamics can be uncomfortable because this may be the first time you’ve expressed your emotions out loud. However, family counseling provides a safe space for every member of the family to be heard without judgment. Family therapy can also help to get everyone on the same page and, thus, help uncover what led to the break in communication among family members.

Depending on the concerns, therapy can be short-term or long-term. Unlearning and relearning how to communicate effectively can take time, but it is not impossible. During family therapy sessions, each family member gets to express themselves, which will make resolving conflicts easier.

When to seek family therapy?

If you are experiencing a change in your family dynamics and you are not sure if family therapy is what you need, below is a list of a few tell-tale signs that might indicate that you need family therapy now:

  • When there is a significant breakdown in communication between family members
  • Family members are finding it hard to function in their normal capacity
  • Family members show extreme emotional reactions such as excessive anger, anxiety, or depression
  • Family members are going into seclusion or isolation
  • Family members express hopeless or helpless feelings
  • Changes in the behavior of children at home or school
  • There are threats or symptoms of violence between family members

If you have noticed one or more of these symptoms in your family, it may be time to engage the services of a professional family therapist.

How can family therapy services help?

Family therapy is useful in any family situation that causes grief, stress, depression, or sadness. It helps you and your family members understand one another better and learn coping skills that will bring your family together.

If a member of your family has just been diagnosed with a chronic illness, family therapy can help you, and the rest of the family cope with the diagnosis in a way that does not cause separation. Family counseling also gives room for families to discuss caregiving responsibilities and opt for the route that best suits the family.

What are the benefits of family therapy?

Family therapy offers families a chance to save their homes and become the happy family they once were. If your family decides to sign up for family therapy, here are some of the benefits you stand to enjoy:

  • Learn about generational patterns and how they influence communication
  • Learn more about familial concerns/issues
  • Build empathy, resilience, and understanding among family members
  • Set appropriate boundaries among the family unit
  • Develop coping strategies and problem-solving skills
  • Improve familial cohesiveness and resolve conflicts
  • Provide a space for each member to feel heard and seen

If you are considering family counseling services, you can start by booking a consultation with me so that we can decide what works best for you. If all your family members are not in the same state, that’s not a problem. I can hold family counseling online for family members that stay in Maryland and New York. Let’s get your family fixed up. Contact me today.