For so many of us, family is one of our highest priorities and most important areas in our lives. Whether it be the family we are born into or our chosen family, families can be a great source of joy, comfort, and support. Contemporary research shows positive family relationships lead to better individual health outcomes, greater stress tolerance, and higher wellbeing overall. Unfortunately, just like with any relationship, sometimes not as simple as we’d like. Small arguments and disputes are normal, and part of living in connection with others. When those disagreements begin to last for prolonged periods of time, however, they can cause significant heartache and negatively impact everyone’s wellbeing. You might find your family repeating cycles of destructive behaviour, constantly bickering and on edge, or even withdrawing and shutting down. We know these patterns well, and we know they can feel exhausting and overwhelming. Life Supports is here to support you and your family in those times of need.
Family often represents a place like home: people we can always rely on for support, where we feel close, comfortable, loved, and open to sharing our inner thoughts and feelings. In reality, few families meet these expectations 100% of the time. Life Supports family therapists are here to offer hope in those moments where family can turn into a source of stress, disconnection, anxiety, or unmet needs.
Family counselling allows your family unit to enter a safe, non-judgemental, and open space where everyone can come to the table as one. A therapist will hold the space for you and your family members to freely express emotions, identify and explore issues, and focus on fostering and building healthy, respectful relationships together.
It’s natural to feel uncertain or anxious before starting counselling, especially when it involves something as precious as your family. How do you know if therapy is the right fit; if your counsellor is equipped to support you in the areas you require; if counselling will even work? A wealth of strong, evidence-based research indicates that family therapy is an incredibly effective form of care across a multitude of scenarios and situations. Individuals who have participated in family therapy experience fewer internalised and externalised problems, greater family cohesion, higher mental satisfaction, and healthier personal relationships.
Life Supports family counsellors and psychologists are all highly trained and experienced in supporting you and families like yours through a variety of circumstances, working collaboratively with you to ensure your individual and collective needs are met through evidence-based approaches.
Family counselling is incredibly effective at:
Family counselling seeks to help families collaborate to address the problems they may be facing. Life Supports family therapists can help bring clarity and understanding to the concerns of each individual within the unit, acknowledging everyone’s unique set of values and perspectives. In a therapeutic environment, you and your family members can meet and reconcile your differences in a way that cultivates respect, love, and healthy communication.
Our therapists focus on creating an environment where families can:
Life Supports therapists are trained and experienced across a multitude of concerns families might want to work on. While every unit is different, with unique concerns and events they might be tackling, there are some reasons more prevalent than others you might be seeking family counselling for. These include:
Bear in mind that these are simply some of the more common presentations for family counselling. The reasons people attend family counselling are as varied as the types of families we support; rest assured that every Life Supports family counsellor is here to collaborate with you with expertise, competency, and respect no matter your situation or needs.
It’s also important to acknowledge the many forms families can take. While the traditional model of a family is quite specific, consisting of a mother, father, and children, today’s definition opens to include family in all its appearances. Your family could look like any of the following:
… to name just a few! Life Supports therapists are skilled in supporting your family unit – no matter its configuration – with professionally tailored, solution-focused counselling services.
It is common for one or two family members to initiate the counselling process, with other family members joining in if and when they are ready. We also provide individual family counselling if you need a nonjudgmental, confidential space to explore and address your own family issues.
Family counselling is suitable for both small and larger family groups – there are no prerequisites that the entire family needs to be present. In fact, family counselling can be incredibly effective even if not all family members are able to participate. Your Life Supports family counsellor or psychologist will collaborate with your family to build on relational strengths and encourage change and interpersonal growth opportunities. Life Supports counselling helps families to:
Life Supports family counselling is a multi-component service, often utilising a combination of evidence-based techniques. As every family’s needs and wants are different, our therapists are incredibly versatile and flexible at developing a counselling approach that takes into account your unique circumstances. Your therapists will work with you and your family to develop an entire toolbox of strategies for you to draw upon, specific to your situation and goals. Below are three of the most effective techniques our counsellors may use in your family counselling sessions:
Cognitive Behavioural Family Therapy (CBFT) helps families to identify and examine beliefs, behaviours and interactions that are both positive and maladaptive. CBFT aims to reinforce desired family behaviours whilst reducing unhealthy patterns of behaviour and social exchange.
Internal Family Systems Therapy (IFST) turns the focus inward to look at internal families within an individual called ‘parts’. By reintegrating and befriending these parts, which may otherwise be overreactive due to trauma or stress, people are able to improve anxiety, depression, self-compassion, and resilience and inner-strength.
Experiential Family Therapy (ECT) examines the underlying discord in family conflict. By exploring each family member’s experience of themselves, other members, and the family as a unit, ECT can yield important insights about dysfunction within the family system. By communicating honestly and creating new interpersonal boundaries together, families can establish deeper levels of cooperation and intimacy.
Strategic Family Therapy (SFT) looks at healthy and harmful patterns of interaction between family members. The aim of SFT is to identify negative cycles of family conflict, and replace habitual ways of relating with new behavioural responses to family problems. By disrupting the loop of dysfunctional conflict, lasting positive change within the family dynamics can occur.
A family should not be a repeated source of anxiety, anger, or upset. Life Supports family counsellors and psychologists will collaborate with your family, offering hope when times get tough through targeted, evidence-based techniques that achieve the positive results your family is seeking. Our therapists are skilled in creating an environment that invites engagement and communication, supports recovery, and integrates the individual needs of everyone in attendance. Through therapy, you and your family can learn healthy and respectful strategies to come together in the face of conflict and resolve disagreements or misunderstandings with compassion and empathy.
The goal of family counselling is to improve the quality of relationships within a family and to address – and help overcome – any deep-seated issues that are causing conflict or fractures. Often this involves enabling different members of a family unit to understand one another better, and acknowledge their various perspectives.
A Court may order a family to attend family counselling during the process of the legal dissolution of a marriage or ahead of the final decision in a custody dispute. This therapy may need to be completed before the final decision is made, and its outcome can influence that decision – for this reason, family counselling is not always confidential when mandated by the courts.
There are as many different issues as there are types of family, and a professional family counsellor can tackle just about any issue that comes their way, but common themes that come up in a lot of family counselling sessions include:
Individual therapy focuses solely on the single client, their internal landscape, issues and mental health problems. It’s extremely inward-focused and personal. Family counselling can be personal too, but it’s more about developing more positive relationships and learning to navigate closeness with people where there may be pre-existing conflicts or tensions. Practically, family counselling involves working together with those family members to solve issues, and having open and honest conversations with them.
Family counselling involves identifying problems that are impacting each family member, and building strategies for each family member to help the others on those issues. It works to create a safe, mediated space where grievances can be aired and talked through in a constructive, non-judgmental, and non-confrontational manner. Often, it will involve setting achievable goals, such as fewer arguments or more time spent together. It also can be a great way to learn to communicate better with family members.