Enlisting the help of family counselling

Therapy, as a practice in general, is designed to help individuals manage and better cope with a wide variety of difficult life events, challenging relationships, or generally upsetting (and possibly traumatic) life experiences. As such, it is an area of talking therapy that provides a great option for families who are trying to navigate this challenging time.

In fact, rather than considering counselling to be an option only suited to extreme cases, it can actually be a great way to help you reflect on your feelings and better cope with your emotions, without letting things escalate and get more difficult for any of you.

For those of you who might be wishing to consider this option, but aren’t sure whether it is a measure that would suit your family, in this post, we will be briefly covering the ins and outs of family counselling. We will discuss the typical things that family counselling will usually involve, as well as the benefits it can bring and how it can help you support each other as you get through this trying time.

Why it’s so important that you cut out the conflict

Before we get into the more in depth summary of what counselling involves, I thought it might be worth first going into a bit more detail about why it is so important that you work to limit the conflict between you and your ex, for the sake of your child.

The importance of limiting your child’s exposure to the conflict between you both cannot be understated. Your child’s life is already going to experience a huge amount of upheaval as a result of the divorce, so the last thing that they need, on top of this, is to feel torn between their two parents.

Your child should feel loved by you both, and in a position where they feel reassured by this and confident in the fact that they will be able to have an ongoing relationship with you both. For a child, witnessing these conflicts is extremely confusing, distressing and is likely to stunt their emotional maturity, on a longer-term basis too.

So, if you and your ex find that your communication with each other increasingly resembles that of a battlefield, it is absolutely key that you accept that you might need external help to improve this matter – if nothing else, remember that in doing this, you are prioritising the needs and wellbeing of your child (we can’t promise you that counselling will be much fun, but this knowledge will make it infinitely easier).

What are the aims of family counselling? And what does a normal family counselling session involve?

In essence, counselling is a type of talking therapy, during which a trained therapist will listen to you speak about your emotions and experiences that you have been struggling with. Then, from there, they will help you to find ways to cope with these difficulties and, ultimately, work with you to improve the way you are feeling.

The therapist will enable you to work through these feelings, and gain a better understanding of how your mind works – why you feel this way, the thought process underpinning these emotions and, through this, how you can resolve these feelings. Counselling can occur just between you and a therapist (either in person, over the phone or online), or in a group too. These appointments could also be a one-off form of help, be part of a short course (with regular sessions over the period of a few weeks), or these sessions could last for a number of months, or even years – it all depends on what the best course of action for you would be to take.

Family counselling is a branch of psychological counselling which is designed to enable family members to work to resolve their difficulties, by improving their communication and talking through these conflicts.

Generally speaking, sessions will normally last for about an hour, and family therapy often consists of roughly 10-15 sessions, as it normally requires a shorter term of counselling. These sessions will focus on these specific issues that are affecting you all as a group, go into detail about how all of you are feeling, and how you can work together to fix it. Divorce is, unsurprisingly, a key topic that is covered in family counselling.

How can family counselling help me?

While every family’s difficulties surrounding a divorce or separation are different, family counselling provides a great way for individuals to navigate a maze of different challenges that you may face.

It’s a way of figuring out your emotions, avoiding conflict and helping your child feel in a happier state that brings benefits on a number of levels.

The benefits that sessions of family therapy can bring include:

  • Helping to improve your communication between each other
  • By facilitating a better understanding of your dynamics, helping you to better your problem solving
  • Improve your empathy for and understanding of each other
  • Help you all create a new relationship (particularly between you and your ex, as you re-establish yourselves as co-parents) that functions in a better, healthier way
  • Provide a more holistic approach to tackling the problems and difficulties that come with the effects that divorce has on a family
  • Helping you to be more honest with each other, and to regain that trust with each other (whereas, rather than aiding your relationship, this time it will be key for your shared role as co-parents)
  • Enable you both to create a supportive network for your child
  • It considers the problems that you are all facing through a more complex, broader perspective – as part of a unit, rather than as individuals
  • Ultimately reducing the destructive conflict that is affecting you all

If you would like to go about looking for a counsellor, there are lots of different sites and services that you can use for recommendations.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommendations for counsellors and types of therapy. Finding therapists that have been registered with a professional organisation (that itself has been accredited by the Professional Standards Authority) provides another way of connecting yourself with experienced, qualified counsellors.

You could also speak to your doctor, who can then refer you to a counsellor. Recommendations from friends or suggestions from your local mental health agencies also provide great ways that you can go about finding a counsellor that is well-suited to help you.

As you consider counselling as a way of helping you and your child better cope with life after a divorce, keep your goals and hopes for what the future will look like at the forefront of your mind. While counselling will hardly be a fun-filled experience, the key thing to remember is your child’s wellbeing, and the fact that it’s a solution with the long-term in mind.

If you feel like your child is being put under emotional strain, try counselling as a way of helping improve things for them – plus, after talking it all out, you’ll probably all feel a lot better for it.

Article Created By Josephine Walbank

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