If you have scheduled your first family therapy session or are considering doing so, you may be experiencing anxiety about what to expect. That’s natural for anyone. Counseling involves sharing a great deal of personal information and allowing yourself to be vulnerable.
Family therapy is a form of counseling in which a group attends sessions together in order to either help one member deal with a problem that is affecting the others or to work together to overcome a family-wide issue. While intimidating, this format can be incredibly useful in overcoming behavioral or psychological problems that have become disruptive to your life. Keep reading to learn what to expect during your first group session and the ways in which attending therapy together can benefit you.
More About Family Therapy
The therapist or counselor who conducts your family therapy session is ordinarily a mental health professional with a Master’s level degree in Psychology or Social Work. It’s likely this person is licensed by an accrediting body, though this may not necessarily be the case. It’s also possible that a Bachelor’s level professional with a background in mental health can lead group therapy.
Philosophy Behind Family Therapy
Family therapy is a very solutions focused approach to counseling, with the leading belief that dynamics within the family unit must be addressed in order to solve issues affecting its members. There are so many possible reasons for families to seek therapy. It can serve as a source of support for family members affected by the substance abuse or chronic mental disorder of one member. It can also be a safe place for everyone to work on interpersonal issues such as marital conflict or sibling rivalry that affect the whole group.
The philosophy behind this focus on group dynamics is that it is essential to treat all the components involved in upheaval in order for the treatment to be most successful. Working with only one person allows the source of most problems to go unaddressed. It is important to note, however, that it is usually recommended that participants with individual issues continue or begin their own separate therapeutic treatment.
What to Expect at Your Session
It’s a good idea to research several therapists before choosing one. You’ll need to find a practitioner who accepts your insurance or method of payment. You’ll also want to learn about the person who will be leading your session. Ask about his or her level of education, particular specialty, counseling philosophy and experience. While you may not be able to tell right away, do try to pay attention to the vibe you receive. Feel free to ask for references. Finding a therapist you and your family feel comfortable with goes along way toward having a successful experience.
Family therapy sessions can normally be expected to be rather short-term, lasting for less than six months. Each meeting will be about an hour long, though how many times you meet depends on your specific situation. At the first family therapy session, you will each introduce yourselves and talk about the reason you are there. Your therapist will explain the standard procedure so that you know what to expect. You may be given a short family exercise in order for the therapist to witness your group interaction. Future sessions will be used to determine presenting problems within the group. teach new skills and identify strengths.
Sometimes you may be given a homework assignment to do prior to the next meeting. Your family therapy session can be a tremendous resource for solving problems. If you are dealing with struggles in your family, seeking out a therapist may greatly help you.