A family counselor sees your family as a single entity, not just a group of individuals. Even though individual members of the family may need counseling of their own, treating the family as a whole helps each individual to understand, not only how they fit in their family but society in general. For children, the family is a microcosm, where life began and their understanding of the world took root. The family unit is the origin, for them, of the pronoun, “we.” The “mental health” or culture of the family affects the emotional stability of each member.
Often when working with a troubled teen or child, family counseling will be prescribed to help create the proper environment for the child. In this case, the emotional maturity of the family affects each member, either positively or negatively.
The whole is greater than the sum of its parts——but don’t ignore the parts.
Family counseling is, at the same time the most difficult and yet often the most productive counseling for individuals. Understanding one’s own family from the perspective of everyone involved can often change a child’s view of themselves. Some members may not express love well, yet may still love each member deeply. Feeling and expressing love is important in a family unit. This is why divorce can be so devastating. It affects the very heart of the family.
The paradox of the family is the need for each member to feel empowered as an individual while still longing to feel important to the group. Many highly successful individuals admit that feelings of not belonging as a child, still affect their current emotional state.
As mentioned above, family counseling is often a therapy employed to help individuals deal with personal issues. The love, support, and understanding of a family strengthen each member and enable each to deal more effectively with individual problems.
Pulling together as a family
Family counseling may be needed when a family is facing a shared tragedy or other specific issue. The loss of a family member may be a shock to each member individually but when the entire family sits together in counseling the healing is often easier and more complete. Shared positive experiences as a family, can also become a strong reference point during trying times. A counselor helps keep each session focused on the healing and support.
Families with individual members who have strong personalities often struggle to maintain family identity. Strong willed individuals often grapple with shared responsibility and identity. Family counseling helps these individuals understand the value of family and their critical role as member.
What doesn’t change
Certain dynamics and understanding of families have evolved over the last few years, but other principles have remained constant. Love, support, concern, and familial joy are still vital components individuals seek from family over and above any other relationship they may have. No matter its make up, families continue to be a vital part of life and civilization.