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Family Counseling


FAMILY COUNSELING?

 

 

 

Are you seeking resolution for conflicts within your family? Do you have conflicts with your adult children, siblings, or parents?

 

I can help your family resolve conflicts, heal hurt feelings, and restore harmony.


What you can expect from family counseling with me;

 Much of the work of counseling families requires preparation and an agreement among family members to follow some simple ground rules.

 Before I meet with you, as a family, I will talk with each of you individually. This can be a brief interaction, and not longer than 30 minutes per person. There is no fee charged for this preliminary meeting, but it saves time in the long run.

 I want each member in the family to be clear about the purpose of the meeting; the goals people would like to achieve; and what hopes people have for the outcome.

When I meet with you and your family, everyone will know what is on the agenda. It may be that a new issue will arise, or someone will realize how something we are discussing is the result of another event or interaction. That is fine. But this is where my expertise comes in.

We will determine as a group whether or not the new topic should be discussed right now. In my experience, some family members are very skilled at changing the subject when the issue is uncomfortable for them, or they want to avoid it. If we have not resolved the topic we are currently engaged in, we will save the new subject for another meeting.

Another very important reason for having an agenda is because most people need some time to process new information in order to formulate an appropriate response. No one should have to fear that they will be ‘blindsided’ by an issue or accusation that they have been unaware prior to our session.

Most situations can be understood if we take the time to understand them from another perspective or from a different interpretation. This calls for respect. In family therapy, I am seeking to increase understanding among the members, not to prove one person right, and the other person wrong.

We have control over ourselves, our attitudes, and how much effort we put into something.

We do not have control over other people, what they do, think, or believe. This includes people in our own family. And frustratingly, for the older generation, we have to recognize that the culture has changed, and expectations and beliefs have changed. We may not like it, and we certainly have the right to say so, and why.

But, we will be happier in the long run if we can learn to accept we do not have control over the changes we see. We do not have to approve of behavior or actions we find unacceptable, in order to spend pleasant time with our families. There may be some areas in your family that you do not need to talk about.

We can only attempt to seek understanding of others, and let go of our expectations of what others should do, or not do.

We can ask our family members to do certain things to help us feel more comfortable, or to help us get along with each other better, but we cannot demand change from them, if they do not want to change, or are unable to change.

What you can expect from family counseling with me is to clarify what various members of the family actually want and what they would like to see happen in the family that is not happening now. You can expect help with reframing situations that have happened in the past. You can expect help with increasing your ability to understand each other from the other’s point of view. This does not require that you change your point of view. Sometime we just have to agree to disagree. This can really be okay.

What you can expect from family counseling with me is help focusing on ‘problem solving’ and learning to separate the ‘problem’ from the individual involved. You are not the ‘problem’, and your family members are not the ‘problem.’

The ‘problem’ is the problem. 

 

If we want peace, we must learn acceptance.

 

 

What you cannot expect from Family Counseling with me;

I will not permit personal attacks, insults or accusations during family therapy sessions. In family therapy, the members need to talk from their own perspective. Sharing feelings of frustration, anger, and hurt are an expected part of the process, but those feelings need to be expressed with respect and without blame. 

Anger is a healthy, normal response to a perceived injustice, but people are not volcanoes, or steam kettles, and emotions are transient. We now understand that anger is best managed by gaining a different perspective on the situation that made us angry.

Sometimes people want to express feelings of resentment, hurt and anger towards members of their family. Some people believe that they will feel better if they can tell a family member what they think of them. They may refer to this as “needing to get something off my chest.” Or they may think that their family member ‘needs’ to hear their opinion of their character or actions. They may even believe this will cause their family member to change, and improve, and should even feel grateful for hearing the ‘constructive criticism’.

People do need to express their feelings, but the appropriate place to do that is in individual therapy. I have never seen a relationship between two people improved by criticism, scolding or personal attacks. No one has an exclusive claim on the ‘truth’. Telling another person the ‘truth’, for their own good, never achieves anything except to create a new resentments, hurts and anger.

When people feel judged, they will stop listening. Expressing your judgments about other family members does not lead to resolution or peace. It damages relationships even more.

If a family member comes to family therapy in order with the goal of proving another family member is wrong, or to try to justify their position, they are not going to get satisfaction. Family counseling will not be successful if it involves blame, shame or punishment of any members.

 


 I will not facilitate a session where one member hurts the other by verbal abuse, personal attacks, or blaming behavior.

 

One final word…

 

For Adult Children;


Becoming an adult changes your relationship with your parents, but it does not mean you no longer need to respect and honor them.

Remember, your parents and parents-in-law are not your peers. They are your parents, and it is not your job to correct or pass judgment on them. That was a job their parents did. Remember when you think about the Ten Commandments; there is a commandment to “Honor your father, and your mother.” There is no commandment to honor children.

For Parents with Adult Children;

Married adult children need to respect and honor their parents, but their first priority is to their spouse and own children.

 

Parents of adult children need to respect their autonomy and independence. When adult children marry, their parents need to respect the new couple and family. Conversely, adult children need to recognize that their parents are not going to take orders from their children.

 


Act accordingly and fitting to your situation and environment