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Family relationships can be difficult to manage when issues arise. Counselling can help guide you through these dynamics and open up lines of communication.

Family counselling and family therapy

Family counselling, also known as family therapy, focuses on family relationships. Both the relationships between parents and children, and other people connected to the family, such as step-parents, stepchildren or grandparents.

Family relationships change over time, especially as children grow up. Talking to a family therapist, or family counsellor as they are sometimes called, can be very helpful in navigating the dynamic periods.

The role of a family counsellor is to lead the conversation and allow everyone in the family to speak and share their perspectives on problems. Common challenges in families include parents and children speaking ‘different languages’ and not being able to get their points across. Communication issues often revlolve around the use of cell phones and computers, which divide attention and hinder conversation.

What set our therapist apart was her genuine empathy and personal insight. Not only did she possess a deep understanding of neurodiversity, but she also shared personal experiences that resonated with us, creating an instant connection and fostering a sense of trust!

Benedetta Osarenk

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13 frequently asked questions about family counselling

What is the purpose of family counselling?

Family counselling aims to help families improve communication, resolve conflicts, and strengthen their relationships. The goal is to promote a healthy and supportive family environment.

When is it appropriate to seek family counselling?

Family counselling is appropriate when a family is experiencing conflict, communication problems, or other challenges affecting their relationships and well-being. It can also be helpful during major changes such as separation, divorce, or loss.

What types of problems can family counselling help with?

Family counselling can help with a wide range of problems, including conflict. This could be communication difficulties between parents and children, challenges with teenagers, divorce issues, loss and grief, or other family-related challenges.

How long does a typical family counselling process take?

The duration of family counselling varies depending on the specific needs and goals of the family. Some problems can be resolved relatively quickly while others require a longer time commitment.

What kind of methods and techniques are used in family counselling?

Therapists use various methods and techniques for promoting communication, conflict resolution, and understanding between family members. This may include role plays, exercises, and open discussions.

Can individual problems be addressed during family counselling?

Individual problems can be discussed and explored during family counselling, especially if they affect the whole family. The therapist can help find solutions and strategies that benefit everyone in the family. Sometimes, the therapeutic process can lead to individual therapy for individual family members. This is a need that can be identified during the process. In consultation with the therapist, a decision will be made as to how this can be achieved.

What happens if a family member is reluctant to participate in family counselling?

If a family member is reluctant to participate in family counselling, it is important to respect their feelings. The therapist can help explore possibilities and options to involve them so they comfortable.

Can children be involved in family counselling?

Yes, children can be involved in family counselling, especially if their perspectives and feelings are relevant to the family’s challenges. The therapist will adapt methods and conversations appropriately based on the child’s age and maturity level.

How can a family continue to use the skills and strategies learned in therapy?

The therapist will advise and suggest how the family can implement the skills and strategies they have learned in therapy. To break old patterns, regular exercises may be recommended. The therapist can also provide new tools or examples of a ‘new language’ where open communication with a so-called ‘I-message’ between the family and the therapist is possible. ‘I-message’ between family members can be applied.

What if the family feels that the therapy is not working for them?

If the family feels that the therapy is not producing the desired results, it is important to communicate this with the therapist. They can adjust the approach or suggest alternative strategies. Lavendla makes it very easy for a family to change therapists or coaches.

Can family counselling be helpful when a family doesn’t have serious problems?

Family counselling can help families strengthen their relationships and prevent future conflicts. It can be preventive and promote a healthy and supportive family environment.

How do I know if family counselling is right for my family?

Family counselling is appropriate if you are experiencing challenges or conflicts affecting your family’s well-being and harmony. Booking an initial session with one of Lavendla’s family counsellors can help you decide if this is the right step.

How much does family counselling at Lavendla cost?

The cost varies depending on the therapist and the length of sessions. Sessions generally cost between €30 – €100. Therapists’ prices are listed on their profile pages. In family therapy, the sessions are usually longer as several people need to have the opportunity to be heard. In consultation with the therapist, you can decide the length and frequency of sessions. An initial meeting focuses on getting to know each other, defining the challenges you face, and making a plan for working together to achieve your goals.

Family therapist and family counsellor

Family counselling is led by a family therapist, also known as a family worker or family counsellor. The difference in title is primarily linked to the person’s training.

The role of a family therapist is primarily to listen and lead the conversation so everyone can share their views. Once everyone has had a chance to speak, the family counsellor can ask questions to create greater understanding, or get family members to put their thoughts and feelings into words differently. For children especially, it can be difficult to put feelings into words.

Lavendla – Making the difficult easier

3 tips for family counselling

  1. See a counsellor when you have ‘problem children‘ – This is a false statement. When working with families, children are never the problem. The adults are responsible for how a family operates. With the therapist, you find out how each family member feels and what you can do to break negative patterns that may have arisen within the family. The term ‘problem child’ does not refer to children with mental health diagnoses, the cause may be difficulties in the family itself. This can also be a reason to see a family counsellor.
  2. Listen to each other – With a therapist, there is room to talk openly and honestly with each other. The therapist will help you get to the point and be listened to. You will be encouraged to become an ‘active listener’. It is not always easy to properly hear what another is trying to say. We sometimes ’embed’ our message as expressing one’s innermost thoughts can be difficult. The therapist will help you to hear the subtle messages.
  3. Be honest! – What should be so simple can be so difficult. A lot of people do not know what they want. Then, they need the courage to express their wishes and opinions. There are so many obstacles. The family may have a way of speaking to each other that is not conducive to honesty. The therapist will support you in getting in touch with your wishes and be able to communicate them. All therapy is about being as honest as possible. If clients answer ‘right’ to questions just to be compliant, this results in ‘as-if therapy’. This will not get to the root of the issues. Honest answers, which can be uncomfortable, allow families to address problems and find new strategies so everyone feels better.

Written by dominic

Dominic is a Cape Town-based copywriter and editor with a background in psychology.