In our current social structure the term “family” goes well beyond legally married heterosexual couples and their children. This has had an effect on family counseling. Contemporary families like gay and lesbian couples, single-parent-led families (divorced or never married), remarried families (where children consider themselves parts of each household), unmarried but cohabitating partners (with or without children), widowed families, and others are more common than the “normal” nuclear-family ideal of the 1950s’.
There is no specific definition for what passes as a “normal family.” This is because all families are different in their own way. Some families (regardless of type, ethnic or racial makeup, socioeconomic status, religion and spirituality, degree of education, or sexual orientation) seem to function in a state of happiness and stability. Others do not, which is why family counseling is so important.
Uncommon Is Common
With family therapy, a counselor should avoid trying to fit your family into some preconceived notion of how he/she believes your family should behave. Instead, your counselor should help your family see its strengths and learn how to be more flexible in seeking solutions for its issues. Your counselor should also help your family learn to be more adaptive to change and how to recover from misfortune or adversity.
A variety of tools should be used to create an environment that allows your family to examine the meanings each member has given to their problem. Then the family should be directed in how they might better find a solution to their problem in a way that is manageable.
Interventions VS Family Therapy
Interventions are a form of forced behavior modification. A family therapy session (whether it be for abuse, alcoholism, anger management, communication issues, grief, etc) should be directed at the entire family, thus reducing the family’s emotional intensity and allowing its members to hear each other’s view of the problem(s). Each member has a different perception of the issue, so it is vital to hear each side of the story and how each member’s story is affecting them.
For more information on family therapy sessions, please contact me by phone or email.