Understanding the Basics of a Family Counselling Programs

Seeking help from a therapist is one of the most common ways to solve complex emotional and behavioural problems. Counselling is useful for identifying the different issues that cause problems between people.

It can prove effective for family members because some problems affect the entire family, and each member has their own capacity to cope with these problems. Problems like depression, addiction, and other behavioural issues can affect the relationship of all family members.

Unresolved problems can cause stress among the family members. The framework of family counselling is different, as it is not restricted to one or two people within a single session. It can include the entire family or some members.

When Do You Need a Family Counselling Session

A healthy relationship between family members is an important aspect of a long-term supportive role that helps maintain a strong bond within the family. Good relationships are necessary for the mental health of everyone especially the children. Your family might need a family counselling session if:

  • One of the members is suffering from addiction to drugs
  • Children behavioural issues from school or eating disorders
  • A traumatic event such as the death of loved one or a beloved pet can have a significant emotional impact
  • Adjustment to a new family member such as a birth of a sibling, adoption, opting to care for a foster child and a grandparent moving in
  • Domestic violence
  • Divorce is one of the most difficult times for each member of the family
  • Conflict between parents
  • A member displaying signs of depression, anxiety disorder or any other personality disorder
  • An autistic family member

Concepts in Family Counselling

Family counselling is comprised of different concepts that apply to different people within the family and each concept is briefly described below:

The Identified Patient (IP)

This term defines the family member with the most symptoms. The family member identified as the IP is the centre focus of the therapy session.


The ability of every single-family member to maintain their sense of self, along with sharing a strong emotional connection with the family. Members of a family must allow differentiation because it makes them feel like they are all a part of a single family.

Triangular Relationships

According to the Family System Theory, a family usually maintain their emotional relationships triangularly. For example, if parents are in conflict with each other, they will ‘triangle’ in on the child as a method of stabilizing their own relationship.

Preparing for a Family Counselling Session

Getting your family together for counselling is extremely important. Moreover, you have to consider that you as a family can resolve any issues through discussion and sharing information . As a family, everyone should collectively take responsibility for the problems and work together for their timely resolution.

 Parents or guardians must ensure that if it’s the child that’s identified as the patient, then you must support and motivate the child to be open about their feelings during sessions. Motivating the child to share their feelings during therapy is the main reason behind successful family counselling programs.

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