In today’s world, it can feel like you may need what others would define as “a problem” in order to seek out professional counseling. However, that is not true. Family issues can be everything from a series of communication breakdowns to a new developmental stage or continual fighting between siblings. Times of transition such as a job change, big move, the blending of families, or the birth of a child can also create family issues that can be worked through with a family counselor.
5 Reasons to Seek the Help of a Family Counselor
There are multiple reasons that a family may seek help from a family counselor. Here are five situations in which you might find family counseling helpful:
1. When you or your spouse experience a major change in circumstances.
It may be that the last few years helped your spouse realize she needed to switch careers, and she has gone back to school and transitioned to part-time work while in school. Or perhaps you moved and, even if your children are in the same school district, a move represents something different from before.
Either of these scenarios can cause stress on a household. And with changing schedules or the pace that goes along with moving, packing, and unpacking, it’s easy to overlook conversations that need to happen during times of transition and change.
A family counselor can help you and your children talk through family issues such as why one sibling got the bigger room at the new house, how your spouse is feeling about not being able to provide the same amount of income as before,or how living in a new neighborhood changes friendship dynamics for your children and the two of you as a couple.
2. When siblings repeatedly struggle to get along.
This one may not seem as obvious because, as a parent, you recognize that siblings have a propensity to argue, fight, and place blame. However, asking a family counselor to step in and bring clarity is a healthy response; it teaches kids how to communicate better, how to voice their feelings, and how to show empathy for others.
It is common to seek help from a family counselor for a handful of sessions for this kind of scenario. One child may find that he or she could use an outside perspective to talk to occasionally, and this can be the beginning of a long-term resource for him or her – someone to seek advice and wisdom from in times of difficulty or change as they grow up.
Instilling in children the idea that counseling is a tool rather than the means to fix a problem also shows them that it’s normal and valid to seek outside help. In families where counseling is a taboo topic, there is often shame and secrecy surrounding any kind of outside assistance.
3. When a child is struggling to regulate their emotions.
It’s easy to shift blame to a particular child if he is continually causing conflict, shutting down, or exhibiting explosive responses to you or others in your home. This may be crying on the floor when a 10-year-old can’t accept responsibility for his actions, or it could be a teenager who slams the door in anger almost daily because she doesn’t want to comply with household rules.
When even one child is going through something difficult, it impacts the entire family and family issues arise, whether the other children talk about it or not (often, they will not unless directly asked). Helping the child who is struggling is important, but it’s also critical to get help for their siblings. Letting the other children know that they matter, that their voices are valuable and that how they feel is important, are all healthy reasons to seek professional family counseling.
4. When someone in or close to the family struggles with chronic illness.
There are so many adjustments that impact the entire family when one member has a chronic illness. And talking about it with the family member who is ill can be awkward. Kids may feel like they’re blaming their parent if it’s a parent with an illness, or they may not want to make their sibling feel bad if he or she is the one who is sick.
Having a counselor who is consistent and trustworthy can go a long way to helping families navigate how they feel during what can be long seasons of illness, pain, and what may appear to be one member of the family’s inability tocommunicate. There are family issues such as resentment, guilt, and simple weariness that can cause long-standing communication problems if not worked through with a trained counselor.
5. When a child goes off to college, but their siblings are still at home.
While graduation is a happy occasion for the graduate, it can be rough on the rest of the family who is left at home. Parents can struggle with feeling closer to being empty nesters, and siblings may struggle with now being the oldest in the household, the one to whom all attention is paid, or grief over their sibling’s physical absence.
If the child who went away to college is struggling to adjust, it can bring another mix of emotions for parents and siblings. Having a family counselor for those who are at home and a counselor on campus for the sibling who is adjusting is helpful.
It is best not to wait until family issues get to a critical point. Allowing a counselor to provide context, listen with empathy, validate feelings, ask insightful questions, and facilitate healthy conversations will help everyone in the family during these kinds of transitions.
If you think your family could benefit from counseling, seek help for any of these family issues and more. We have trained counselors who can support your family through a variety of seasons.
“Family Stroll”, Courtesy of Jessica Rockowitz, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Dog in a Box”, Courtesy of Erda Estremera, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Change”, Courtesy of Geralt, Pixabay.com, CC0 License; “Boy with Juice Box”, Courtesy of Viki_B, Pixabay.com, CC0 License