Are you and your family having a hard time communicating? Are there unresolved issues that regularly cause conflict? Are you struggling to set healthy boundaries with your teen? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. Family conflict is inevitable but not everyone is equipped to deal with it on their own. In my practice I seen many clients who come into my office seeking individual counseling for an issue that really involves the entire family. The patterns within a family are hard to address with only one member sitting in the counseling office. My hope is that each of my clients will be able to establish set healthier patterns for their life and their relationships. But, sometimes this can only come about through intentional conversations that include their family.
What Does Christian Family Counseling Address?
There are many issues that can be addressed in family counseling, but those that I most often encounter in my practice include communication, respect and boundaries.
- Learning to Communicate as a Family: Communication among family members is the primary reason why families walk into my office. Whether they are aware of the issues or not, an inability to communicate clearly and respectfully can make or break any family. When working with a family, I begin by exploring their current communication patterns. This includes enabling people to see, how one person’s messages are received by others family members, and facilitating a conversation in which ensuring each individual voice can be heard.
- Developing Respect as a Family: Respect is another theme I have found to be central in my work with families. I have worked with many parents who hope to bring respect back into their relationships. Respect is fundamental to all family relationships, whether with one’s children, one’s spouse, or and even within oneself.
- Setting Boundaries as a Family: As children grow up, boundaries need to be flexible. But many families struggle with this transition as it can be uncomfortable and can provoke anxiety. Family counseling provides an open communication and an intentional time that is the perfect place to express needs and wants, and to renegotiate boundaries as children become teens and young adults. These boundaries can also apply to relationships with extended family members and friends which, when unchecked, may have an unhealthy impact on families.
- Other Reasons for Seeking Family Therapy: Other common reasons to enter family therapy include, divorce and the blending of families. These important topics need to be addressed with the entire family, and at times a little extra help from a professional can make a big difference.
Why Do We Need Family Counseling?
I know from both my personal and professional experience that there are certain family issues that can be addressed successfully counseling. But there are also times where you may feel stuck and are unable to move past a certain road block on your own. My role as a counselor is to ensure that everyone is heard and understood. As an outsider to the family, I am in a better position to find the messages going on underneath the conversation, and identifying these can lead to greater clarity. Counseling can also be seen as providing an intentional time in which we work through issues without the distractions of everyday life. It is not so easy to have these talks at home where TV, cell phones, computers, homework, and chores all compete for our attention. I seek to slow down the conversation with all my clients, and at times intervene to challenge the messages that we convey, whether about ourselves or others.
Christian Counseling Can Enrich Your Family Life
It can be difficult to take the first step and to reach out for help. Indeed, it may take time for you to convince the rest of the family to attend counseling and to take ownership of the work that needs to be done. There is a stigma attached to counseling in our culture and many people think that things need to be pretty bad before they are prepared to consider therapy. But the truth is that any family can benefit from an open and honest conversation in which each member is heard and understood. In our fast -paced world, counseling sometimes provides is the only safe haven in which we can vulnerable and address sensitive topics. My goal as a Christian counselor is not for families to come back to my office any time there is a disagreement or fight, but rather to equip them with the tools they need to continue successful family communication beyond counseling. Whether your family has issues that occasionally flare up, or something that has halted your functioning completely, I would love to help you return to a place of mutual understanding and respect.
“Bike Sunset” by arztsamui at freedigitalphotos.net; “Young Friends with Folded Arms” Stock Photo by imagerymajestic at freedigitalphotos.net