The Pros And Cons Of Free Family Counseling
Updated March 16, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Family therapy is usually pursued when a family is afflicted by some kind of traumatic event or circumstance. This is often the first kind of mental health counseling a person receives and can be of great help both to the individual and the family as a whole. Despite its proven benefits, though, it's not always covered well by medical insurance or within every family's financial means, meaning that free family counseling is sometimes the only option.
Where To Find Free Family Counseling
Many religious groups and community organizations offer free family counseling as a public service. Unfortunately, unless they can count on the services of a licensed family and marriage counselor, the quality of counseling they provide can vary widely.
Family therapy is a specialized sub-field in psychology, requiring a particular skill set. While compassion certainly forms part of it, no amount of good intentions can substitute for the theoretical knowledge and practical experience that can be gained only over several years. In fact, you could say that therapy offered by someone without an advanced degree, thousands of hours spent practicing and a commitment to a professional code of ethics can harm instead of help a family.
When Family Counseling Is Appropriate
A person's family is often the people who know them best and are most interested in supporting them through the tough times. When confronted by issues such as substance abuse or depression, their help will tend to make all the difference. These kinds of issues are also those that affect the happiness of the family as a whole, meaning that not only the base problem but also its effect on others has to be addressed. Working with the family as a whole allows a therapist to teach them coping and communication skills that allow them to assist a person close to them better.
In other cases, dealing with the aftermath of a divorce, the loss of a loved one or some other calamity is often best done in a family context. Most households contain individuals with widely differing amounts of life experience, and family therapists are skilled at helping to bridge the resulting communication gaps.
This kind of facilitated communication is also sometimes used to facilitate addressing behavioral problems in children. While other supplemental therapy may also be a good idea, a family counselor will be able to see a child's actions not only as something in itself but instead as the result of possibly unhealthy dynamics in their home life.
Pros And Cons You Should Know About
Understanding everything that comes along with family counseling is important for both you and your loved ones. Like any form of treatment, there are always multiple layers and things which all parties should know about before they dive in. This is where knowing the following pros and cons comes in handy.
Strengthening The Family Unit
One of the greatest benefits of family counseling comes in the form of having a stronger family unit. This often occurs with time and consistency; when the entire family can sit down with a counselor, this can provide insight into what's going on, how various relatives and feeling, and the existence of present dynamics. The family unit can ultimately get stronger via counseling by talking with the specialist, remaining receptive to subsequent feedback, and then following any advice which is given.
Harder Without All Family Members
Family counseling can be a very life-changing and effective process; however, to yield the best results, it requires all members of the family to attend as active and willing participants. This doesn't mean that family counseling can't happen without all members of the family, although it might be slightly less effective or more challenging.
Without all present members of the family, the counselor can't get each perspective. However, what they can do is work with present relatives, learn as much as possible about all involved members of the family (even if this requires getting testimony from others) and then provide the best possible advice. Family counseling will be harder without all relevant members of the family, but this doesn't mean that it's impossible.
Helping Families Understand More About Each Other
During family counseling, relatives will inevitably learn more about one another. This simply comes along with working with a professional, providing insight about your perspectives, listening to the outlooks of others, and hearing what they have to say when the counselor asks them certain questions.
So many problems and misunderstandings can arise when families aren't on the same page. This is why having a clear comprehension of one another and where everyone stands matters so much. In many cases, it may take sitting down with a counselor and hearing what each party has to say before relatives can have that breakthrough and truly get to understand one another. This is an area where family counseling can genuinely prove to be advantageous.
Multiple Outlooks On Provided Feedback
Another one of the drawbacks of family counseling is that all members of the family might not like the advice which is given. Some relatives may be advised to make specific changes, while others are given different advice. When one family member feels as though the feedback they're being given is wholly different from that of others, it can create some tension. This doesn't always happen during family counseling sessions, but it's not particularly uncommon.
In cases like these, there are some important things to remember. Probably the most important thing for everyone to keep in mind is that counselors are not in the business of taking sides. The job of the counselor is to hear out all sides, listen to what everyone has to say, and then help guide the family on a path that will better them as a unit. This may require certain members of the family to make certain behavior changes; it may require other relatives to continue doing what they're doing.
The variables which impact feedback that the counselor may provide are innumerable. However, when all parties are open and receptive, this puts them on the path to being healthier and happier.
What To Keep In Mind Prior To Family Counseling
If you're taking family counseling for the first time, it's natural to have some reservations, questions, or anxiety. However, having an understanding of the following family counseling information will hopefully help put your mind at ease as you prepare to venture down this journey.
It Requires Time And Consistency
Even to this day, there are so many misconceptions surrounding counseling in general, and especially family counseling. Before taking family counseling, it's critical to remember that progress takes time and consistency. There are no overnight solutions; problems don't develop in the blink of an eye, and they can't be solved in the blink of an eye either. There may be challenges and tough conversations which need to be held during family counseling, but sticking with it, even when it's not easy, will ultimately lead to success in the end.
Different Issues Require Various Approaches
Ultimately, no two families are the same. Each family has its dynamics, their issues, and various situations which they have faced. For this reason, everyone should be aware that multiple issues require different solutions and approaches. Keeping an open mind and being receptive to the feedback from a counselor and the suggestions which a counselor has to make will benefit all parties involved in both the short term and the long term.
Sometimes families who meet with a counselor may also know other people who work with professionals. It can be tempting to compare situations, outcomes, or time spent in counseling, but this is neither helpful or productive. As previously noted, no two individuals or situations are the same. One family may be in counseling for a few weeks, while another may work with a counselor for several months. There is no right or wrong answer or ideal designated period. This is another detail to keep in mind when participating in family counseling.
There Is Nothing To Be Ashamed Of
To this day, there are still certain stigmas associated with mental health services and otherwise seeing a counselor. Sometimes people are made to feel as though there's something wrong with them if they seek professional guidance. This is simply not true.
The reality is that no matter who we are or what family we may be part of, we all face issues from time to time and that's alright. When families are in crisis or need of outside help, having access to that help and being able to rise above and progress forward eventually is what ultimately matters in life.
If you are interested in counseling or therapy of any kind, then you are officially in luck. Here at ReGain, we proudly have an amazing team of mental health professionals who would be thrilled to work with you.
Regardless of who you are or what you may be dealing with, here at ReGain, you will always have the guidance and support which you deserve. Life throws challenges and obstacles at all of us, but we don't have to go through them alone. Having a support system is uplifting and empowering; it also lets you know that you're not alone, regardless of how dark or scary times may seem. Help will always be available to those who are open and receptive to it.
If you're ready to take the next step towards making the rest of your life the best of your life, then ReGain is here and ready for you. You can get in contact with us at any time and from anywhere simply by clicking here.
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