The goal of any family is for all members to live in harmony with each other. It is the first source of a child’s education and moral values.
If your family is experiencing …
- Difficulties interacting with each other
- Financial hardships
- Loss of job, income, sickness and/or death
- A troubled teen
You may want to consider family counseling. A problem experienced by anyone in the family can affect other members also. Below are some widely used techniques in family counseling.
In Home Observations
This is a fairly new technique where the family therapists actually live with the family for a few days. This enables the therapist to observe family interactions first hand and allows them to meet their clients real needs better.
Communication Skill Building
Good communication skills are the basic foundation for a healthy family environment. Any trial that a family member goes through will affect the rest of the family either positively or negatively depending on their communication skills.
Families that face one crisis after another will soon break down if they do not know how to communicate with each other.
The family therapist will focus on communication patterns between family members. During sessions the family members will be encouraged to take turns expressing their feelings, while the other family members practice listening without judging the other persons actions and statements.
Therapists use this technique in order to present different perspectives of family problems. Re-framing is an attempt at turning negative behaviors into positive behaviors.
For example a daughter may see her parent as untrusting if the parent repeatedly questions her behavior after a date. In reframing the daughter can be shown that the parents actions are out of love and concern.
Tracking is a technique widely used by most therapists. Some therapists see it as an essential part of family counseling.
The therapist listens intently to family stories told by each member of the family. The therapist then records the events in order to identify the sequence of events. At this time the therapist will be able to design interventions between the various points.
Family photos are an excellent way for a therapist to determine how the family functions in the present s well as in the past. Family members look at memorable photos as they talk about them. The therapist is able to gather verbal and nonverbal actions between the family members. It also reveals family relationships, customs, roles and communication patterns.
The Genogram provides an enormous amount of insight for the therapist. This technique should be used early in family therapy. The Genogram provides a graphic picture of the family history which reveals the families basic structure and demographics.
A genogram is a family history listing three generations, including names, dates of birth, death, marriage, divorce, and other relevant facts.
Family floor plan
This technique should also be done during the beginning stages of counseling. Family members are requested to draw a floor plan of their home. They are asked to remember the sounds, colors, odors and people in the house. While they are drawing specific questions are asked about the environment such as;
What room does the family gather in?
What conversations take place in the various rooms?
Are any rooms restricted or off limits?
Where do guests gather?
This technique will reveal the comfort levels between family members, space accommodations and rules. It can also indicate family triangles and subsystems. Discussions often bring out meaningful issues related to ones past.
Family sculpting provides recreation for the family. Family members are asked to physically arrange the family representing relationships to one another at a specific period of time. Children often make good sculptors as they are able to non-verbally communicate their thoughts and feelings this way.
This technique goes beyond family sculpting. Family members are asked to show how they would like to see the family situation as well as the way they see it in the present. They may be asked to reenact current family situations and then re-sculpt them to the preferred scene.
The Empty Chair
In this technique a family member will express their feelings to another member – the empty chair. The family member then will play the role of the other person and carry on a dialogue. Expressions to absent family, parents, and children can be arranged through utilizing this technique.
This technique involves the therapist meeting with one member of the family as a means of helping that person change. When each person changes their individual perspectives and outlooks, it enables the entire family system to change. This technique attempts to disrupt a circular system or behavior pattern.
Family Council Meetings
This is simply an organized family meeting. The family is there to share and discuss any concerns they have. The goal is to find a solution together. It is important that all family members attend. Set a specific time to meet and have rules that all must abide by: i.e. Attacking others is not acceptable. Often times family therapists will prescribe Family Council Meetings as homework for the family.
Faulty decision making increases the stress level of families. Not making decisions becomes more problematic. The therapist encourages the family to reframe the indecisive behavior – decision is showed as caring and taking appropriate time on important matters. The head of the family is directed not to rush into anything or to make hasty decisions.
Putting the Client in Control
This technique places control into the hands of each individual or the head of the family. For example if a family member has a problem with anxiety – Specific directives are given as to when, where, and with whom, the person can exhibit their anxiety or worries. A time limit is also set. In time the client begins to feel in control which results in a positive change.
Families can get stuck in behavior cycles, become bored with each other, and take little time for one another. When this happens members of the family feel unappreciated, unloved, and taken for granted.
With this technique the family sets aside days where they are asked to show that they care. This can be done by giving a specific a special day, or by family outings and mini vacations.
In Conclusion …
Remember that all therapists are different. Family counselors customize their techniques according to their training, beliefs and that of the family they are counseling. When choosing a counselor check out their skills in handling the problems your family is facing. If you are a religious person, you may want to find a counselor that has the same beliefs as you. It’s a good idea to interview more than one counselor to find a good fit for you and your family.