Everything You Need to Know About Family Counseling

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia
Updated November 13, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

Any family experiencing interpersonal problems or wanting to improve their relationships may benefit from family counseling. There are generally four main types of family counseling, including Bowenian family therapy, structural therapy, systemic therapy, and strategic therapy. Family therapy can improve communication between relatives, strengthen their bonds, and improve empathy and anger management skills. If you’d like to talk to a licensed mental health professional about whether family counseling may be right for you, or if you’d like to try Bowenian family therapy, an online therapy platform can be a great place to start.

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Online Therapy Is A Safe Space To Discuss Family Life

Circumstances That May Benefit From Family Counseling

There are several instances where relatives may benefit from or require family therapy to recover from trauma or other rifts. Child behavioral problems, death(s), domestic abuse*, and substance use may be just a few of the many examples. Family therapy often helps tackle the preceding problems in several different ways.

*If you are facing or witnessing abuse of any kind, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or Text "START" to 88788. You can also use the online chat.

Firstly, family counselors are typically trained to help relatives lessen conflict and better communicate with one another. These licensed professionals can sit down with families, get to know each person, and observe existing dynamics and dichotomies that could be impacting and contributing to trouble amongst family members. With the cooperation of the relatives, the counselors can begin to work with the family and gradually take on the problems and find solutions so that the family can begin to heal and come together.

Common Types Of Family Counseling

Bowenian, structural, systemic, and strategic therapy tend to be the four most common types of family therapy. Each of the methods above usually comes with its own benefits, depending on the structure and dynamics of the relatives who are seeking help.

Bowenian Therapy

Bowenian therapy is usually most conducive for people seeking to improve their relationships with family without their relatives being present during counseling sessions. Entire families are not always willing to seek out professional help and cannot generally be forced to. Therefore, Bowenian therapy normally seeks to help the individual at hand learn how to vent in a healthy, productive manner and abstain from emotional outbursts when around their relatives. Like any other form of counseling, Bowenian therapy typically takes time. People who receive this form of counseling should generally expect to notice gradual progress.

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Structural Therapy

Unlike Bowenian therapy, this form of counseling tends to focus on the familial dynamics between parents and children. Structural therapy usually emphasizes the importance of acceptable limitations. Children are often encouraged to remember that the final decisions ultimately rest with their parents, while both parties may be aided in strengthening their relationships with each other. The counselor may metaphorically become part of the family to help parents and children enact beneficial changes.

Systemic Therapy

Systemic therapy may be one of the most intricate and layered forms of family therapy. Relatives are typically encouraged to explore the underlying causes of their issues and understand the meanings behind their relatives' conduct. This process can be somewhat challenging, depending on family dynamics and the severity of the discord. Counselors usually take a more hands-off approach to systemic therapy. The ultimate purpose of this form of therapy is normally for families to comprehend and solve family problems. When needed, the systemic therapist can provide a different perspective or simply observe.

Strategic Therapy

Strategic therapy normally entails the counselor assigning specific tasks to the relatives attending therapy. Usually, the tasks relate to how the family connects and communicates with one another. The tasks can also be designed to help each relative make better decisions, which may ultimately benefit the family unit as a whole. Counselors are often thought to hold the most power throughout strategic family therapy sessions.

Upsides And Goals Of Family Counseling

The ultimate upsides and goals of family therapy are normally to strengthen bonds, improve communication, and bring relatives together as a whole. However, the practices above can mean different things to different relatives. Each family tends to be unique and may have their own problems to overcome. Nevertheless, many well-documented benefits transcend all struggles and benefit virtually anyone who seeks out and completes the process of family therapy.

Increased empathy and improved communication skills are generally some of the most common and needed benefits of family therapy. For relatives to experience healthy relationships and bonds with one another, empathy and communication are usually paramount. If families do not truly care for each other, and if they cannot positively interact with one another, strong, positive relationships can be virtually impossible. Far too many familial issues can stem from a lack of empathy and poor communication skills. 

Anger management can be another goal and upside that may inherently come along with successful family therapy. While anger can be a part of life, knowledge of how to handle said anger without lashing out at loved ones can be equally as important as empathy and improved communication skills. Words said in anger can never be taken back and may leave wounds that last a lifetime. Relatives who aspire to better their familial ties may need to manage their anger and not let their anger manage them.

Family counseling can also reunite estranged relatives, ease feelings of stress and tension, foster honesty and trust, and help relatives forgive each other for past wrongs and prior transgressions. Learning how to forgive one another and move forward together can be critical for families who want to improve the quality of their relationships.

Is Family Counseling Right For You And Your Family?

While many specialists recommend that families in crisis seek out counseling or therapy, there may be some families who have reservations regarding professional assistance. In some cases, it takes time for people to adjust to the concept of opening up to someone they do not know. However, family counselors normally have their clients’ best interests at heart.

Families who have certain problems, such as behavioral issues with children, recent traumatic experiences, substance use issues, or difficulty getting along with one another, can benefit from family counseling. Each of the issues above can be likely to fester and worsen if they are not addressed. Spending time with a family counselor can help relatives heal wounds and overcome challenges.

There may be families in which one or some relatives wish to attend therapy and others do not. This dichotomy can present a unique challenge, especially when the family as a whole is experiencing difficulty due to an unresolved problem. In the instance above, relatives who are open to family counseling should certainly attend.

Not only may they learn new interpersonal skills, grow, and strengthen their relationships with one another, but they may even convince more hesitant family members to give therapy a try. In instances where only one individual is open to seeking family counseling, Bowenian therapy will likely prove to be the most beneficial option.

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Online Therapy Is A Safe Space To Discuss Family Life

Try Bowenian Family Counseling Online

An online therapy platform can match you with a Bowenian family therapist who can work with you one-on-one to help you better respond to family members and work through familial conflicts. Working with a therapist online can be convenient, as you can get the professional help you deserve from the comfort of your home at a time that fits your schedule.

According to a study, online therapy can be just as effective as traditional in-person therapy, and it can be helpful for a variety of mental health concerns and challenges. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for support if you feel you’d benefit from it.

Takeaway

If your family would like to grow closer or resolve interpersonal issues, then family counseling may be a helpful tool. Systemic therapy, structural therapy, strategic therapy, and Bowenian therapy tend to be the most common types of family therapy, and each of these can improve empathy, teach anger management skills, improve communication, and strengthen familial bonds. You may try Bowenian family therapy or discuss the possibility of whether family therapy may be a good choice for you with an online therapist.

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