Family counseling is a type of psychological group counseling, the object of which is the family, or, as is often said, emphasizing the systemic nature of relationships, the family system.
Traditionally, this type of assistance belongs to the field of systemic family psychotherapy. However, its functions of family counseling are much broader and are not limited to psychotherapeutic effects.
The task of family counseling or psychological assistance is usually assigned to consultations at the civil registration authorities, where young spouses can receive information on adaptation to marriage, psychological compatibility, as well as consultations at social services that provide social and psychological assistance to problem families.
In terms of the number of factors of psychological traumatization, the family is in the first place, ahead of all other areas, even school. This refers not only to physical violence, sexual abuse, abuse, and trauma but also to family deprivation, psychological aggression. It is also the “kinks” of parental influence that cause the development of personality deformities in children.
An important feature of family life is the closed nature of any information regarding family problems, especially traumas – physical, moral, or sexual. Neither the victims nor the aggressors themselves like to talk about them. This is often associated with the victim’s feelings of guilt. This is the reason for many difficulties in solving family problems.
Family counseling (like family psychotherapy) is based on a systematic approach, that is, it considers the family as a single psychological system. This means that psychological problems concern the family and all its members, and not just someone separately, although the symptoms of these problems can focus on one particular family member.
Family counseling such problems can be:
- alcoholism and other types of addictive (dependent) behavior of individual family members;
- codependency or unhealthy psychological dependence of people on each other;
- violation of family relations (conflicts, adultery, family aggression, etc.);
- problems of children (diseases, school phobias, neuroses, behavioral disturbances, etc.) as a reaction to an unfavorable climate in the family or conflicting relationships of adults
- and much more.
The field of family counseling, in addition to the problems of marital relations, also includes the problems of interaction between various subsystems of the family, which include parent-child relations, relations between representatives of different generations living together, as well as the relationship of the family with external institutions, child care institutions.
The problems of adaptation to changes in the family are also important. This is not only preparation for such important events of family life as marriage, childbirth, etc. It is also “non-standard” problems that arise when parents divorce and create new families, raising children in an incomplete family and relations between ex-spouses and children after divorce, the problems of adoption and raising stepchildren, and many others. dr.
Parent-child relationships are often no less dramatic than marital relationships, and they are also overwhelmed by many games, including power ones. Children usually learn the typical games of their parents. Education often even unconsciously comes down to just this. The attitude of parents to male and female roles forms the scenario beliefs of their children regarding the family roles of marriage partners and the prospects for family relations in general.
Using the system of role expectations, parents, without knowing it, program the future fate of their child.
A separate branch of family counseling is counseling parents about the problems of children and child education. It is important to convince parents that children’s problems rarely exist on their own, that help is usually needed by the whole family, in particular parents. Targeted psychotherapeutic assistance to a child may not yield results if there are no changes in the entire family system, if the entire system of family relations is not improved.
Since psychological assistance should be comprehensive, family roles are a convenient model for studying family relationships. On the one hand, they contain the main functions, statuses and positions of family members, on the other, these are personal modes in which the personalities of the participants function through role identities.
Acceptance of a role is an important condition for interaction in the family, which, in turn, is associated with the congruence of role expectations and aspirations of the participants in the interaction. Taking this into account, we can conclude about role compatibility in the family.
There is a role-playing concept in family counseling that deals with childhood roles in alcoholic families (which can be extrapolated to other types of families). These are roles such as “Hero”, “Adaptation”, “Talisman”, “Scapegoat”, “Lost Child”. According to the author, these roles are indicators of family dysfunctions.
When working with family counseling, many other psychological family phenomena are dealt with, be it family games, family stereotypes, family myths, family stories, family secrets. They can be used both as a diagnostic tool and as a material for psychological correction.
In psychological and psychotherapeutic assistance to families, it is useful to use the methods of role psychotherapy, in particular psychodrama. Many family problems can be solved by “immersing” in the history of family relations and thus resolving the primary conflicts. Such opportunities are offered by the method of psychodrama, which allows you to play and replay old life situations in a new way.
In family counseling, you can also take advantage of the state of age regression, which corresponds to the studied period of life. In the role-playing game, you can even experience a rebirth or play a future death. However, such deep work requires not only the high qualifications of a psychologist but also the willingness of the client.
Here one cannot do without his insight and courage as an explorer of his own soul, because you will have to meet not only with nostalgically pleasant memories but also with the ghosts of the past, which people usually try to forget like a nightmare. However, serious family assistance with immersion in the origins of family problems will always give positive results in the future, which will contribute to family well-being.