Family Therapy & Counselling

Family therapy can be an invaluable tool in sorting through difficulties or hardships your family unit may be experiencing. There is no ‘wrong’ time to commence family therapy.

With the aid of an experienced family therapist or counsellor, you can become well equipped to ensure positive communication and healthy relationships are formed and maintained between family members.

Psychologists and counsellors in attendance at Brisbane Counselling Centre create a safe and supportive environment to discuss and solve persistent relationship issues, as well as fostering the family’s strengths, helping to improve relationships and navigate difficult times with care and understanding.

What is the purpose of family therapy?

Family therapy or counselling can be used to assist with a wide range of behaviours and complex family dynamics, but at its core exists to help family members resolve conflict and improve their communication and functionality. Family members can learn how to express their thoughts, feelings and needs more effectively, resulting in less hurt and damage to each other. How long your family comes to therapy depends on what issues you are dealing with. A treatment plan is established to assess needs, deliver skills, strategies and other resources, and mediate the resolution of issues in a safe and caring environment.

Family counselling may just involve the parents learning new skills to parent more effectively or cohesively with each other. Family counselling could also be a young person coming to therapy to work through some challenges they are experiencing in their family unit.

When is family therapy necessary?

The reason your family may decide to begin counselling is highly individualised. Family counselling can be used proactively or reactively, depending on what circumstances you are facing.

Some of the issues we can help you with include:

  • interpersonal conflict
  • communication skills
  • parenting skills
  • understanding a young person
  • separation & divorce
  • blended families
  • controlling & abusive behaviours
  • establishing boundaries
  • drug & alcohol abuse
  • sibling conflict
  • anger management
  • grief & loss
  • trauma

How should we prepare for family therapy?

If this is your first family therapy session, or your first experience with counselling altogether it can be hard to know what to expect. There are a few key steps you could consider taking before attending your first family counselling session. It depends on your family situation as to who attends the first session. It is often Ideal if all family members attend the first session, but depending on your family situation this is not always the best way to proceed. Be clear with your family members about why you’re going to therapy. Family counselling aims to facilitate understanding and resolve conflict, so it’s important that no-one in the family is blindsided, walking into the room either because they don’t know why they are there, or worse, that they weren’t aware they were coming to an appointment at all. It’s important each family member has a choice about attending the counselling. When someone is forced to attend therapy, it usually backfires and results in a negative association for that person, meaning they are unlikely to seek help in the future when they may really need it.

Make sure everyone understands how you arrived at the decision to attend family therapy with a professional and understanding family therapist. Think about or write notes on what you want to discuss before your appointment. Trying to remember incidents and how they made you feel in a particular moment can be difficult and reduce how effective therapy sessions are. Try to come prepared with talking points so your family psychologist can explore them in depth with you and improve relationships within the family.

If possible, try to encourage everyone attending the appointment to put some time into preparing for the session. At the end of the day, every family has different needs which means the reason they attend family therapy is different. It can be hard knowing when the right time to start is, or what to expect and addressing common issues effectively can sometimes be a short-term commitment or require extended support for more complex family issues. Finally, come with an open mind and a willingness to listen to what’s happening for your family members.

Aims of family therapy

In order to gain insight and change through engaging in family therapy, the goals of family therapy are to be:

  • Working on and creating a partnership within your family unit, to work cohesively
  • Respectful of the uniqueness of your family dynamic, as well as the beliefs, culture and relationships within the unit
  • Recognising each other’s strengths and resources
  • Inclusive of each person within the family unit and their needs
  • Providing a safe space, where each family member can speak about what is happening for themselves and this can be heard in a respectful manner that encourages growth and change

Types of family therapy

There are a number of different types of family therapy. Although the approach might be different, there is a common goal of being able to assist family members to communicate more effectively and constructively address the issues at hand. Common forms of family therapy include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy – tends to focus on an action orientated approach of solving problems, including teaching family members practical skills in being able to identify and replace unhelpful patterns of responding with more adaptive, healthy patterns of response, bringing about positive changes within the individuals and family unit as a whole
  • Systemic family therapy – has a focus on identifying how an individual’s behavioural patterns, choices and relationships are all interconnected and impact on the interactions within the family unit
  • Narrative family therapy – focuses on assisting family members to create a healing story around hurtful situations that have unfolded in the past, enabling them to understand, process what has happened and be more of an observer of this story
  • Structural family therapy – has a tendency to focus on how individuals within the family unit interact with each other, assisting the family members to identify how these interactions may be causing harm within the family unit. This will enable improved communication and positive change within the family

Help is available!

At Brisbane Counselling Centre, there are experienced psychologists and counsellors trained in family counselling, who are understanding, caring and supportive. We want to help your family achieve more harmonious and healthy relationships. Every family’s needs are different. A plan will be tailored to meet your family’s needs by one of the professionals at Brisbane Counselling Centre in consultation with your family members.