Los Angeles Christian Counseling
Fortunately, many forward-thinking families have recognized this problem and are taking proactive steps for the sake of their loved ones. One such step is seeking family therapy.
When Should Family Therapy Begin?
Family therapy is often the last resort for some as there are fears about cost, time, and the shame of needing outside help. Sadly, waiting until the last minute also means months or years of negativity at home, fraying the family ties. By the time they do see a counselor, there is not enough left to keep the family together.
Families should not wait until very serious issues rear their ugly heads. If there are already early warning signs of what may come, family therapy can already help prevent things from getting out of hand.
What Does the Family Need?
Depending on the situation, a family may need one or more types of therapy to heal their relationships. The following are some of the common concerns family therapy can help resolve.
Couples therapy or marriage counseling has been proven to be very effective in restoring marriages if help is sought early on. Because of the liberated mindset of today, coupled with increasing stressors at home and the workplace, many couples struggle at home. This is why it is helpful to thresh out concerns with a therapist to improve communication, realign family objectives, stop abusive practices, and reignite that love for one another.
Pre-marriage counseling is also very helpful to avoid the pitfalls that new married couples usually face. If engaged couples, or even those who are still thinking about marriage, are able to learn more about their future roles as husband and wife, there will be lesser mistakes.
Behavior InterventionDespite being precious treasures from God, raising children well can be very challenging. Behavior intervention is for families whose children are encountering difficulties with other children or adults in their school, immediate community, or even at home.
In therapy, the child learns what is acceptable and what is not through a series of activities. The parents are taught how to properly enforce the needed boundaries through reward systems and other methods to positively change their child’s behavior.
Parenting is tough. As there was no such subject in school, many simply look back at their own childhood and copy what their parents did before, which may no longer be applicable to kids now.
Parent coaching focuses on the needs of the parents to become better at raising and loving their children in this fast and dynamic world. They learn what is needed for their child’s emotional, mental, physical, and social health; and proper discipline is discussed to prevent behavior issues. Such discussions also include boundary setting and learning how to get their child to listen and obey.
Resolving Family Member Issues
In some families, major problems exist between family members. This is usually between the parents and the child, but it may also be between siblings or even extended family members (e.g. grandparents) living under the same roof.
In family therapy, the therapist works together with all involved to open up a healthy dialogue to get to the root of the problem. Moreover, the therapist aims to improve the love and respect the involved parties should have for one another so that future issues can be resolved in the proper way.
Navigating Systems Involvement (CPS, Law Enforcement, Schools)When a family is in crisis, there are usually other entities (e.g. child protective services, police, or school authorities) involved, making it difficult to resolve the immediate concern. Many parents are not equipped to handle these entities, causing them to make wrong decisions, further hurting the family.
In family therapy with a clinical social worker, aside from providing therapeutic help for the family, the social worker can help families deal with all of these entities in the proper, legal way.
Who to Select for a Family Counselor
Prior to finding a family counselor, it is important to consider the family problem at hand and the personality of the family. Generally, if the family is comfortable with the therapist, then the process will be much easier.
But in some circumstances, a family may need someone “different” to get through to the erring members. For example, if child behavior is an issue because the parents are quite soft, then the children may need a stricter therapist to ensure results.
Next, it is time to find the right therapist. As in all professions, every family counselor is different — some may have much experience in a particular area (e.g. juvenile behavior intervention), but less in another. Therapists may also have different approaches as some prefer “tough love,” while others are a little softer and easier to talk to.
One way to determine who to select is to go online and check their website profiles. Reading their posts and testimonies from clients (if any) can give an initial understanding of a therapist’s experience and approach. This, however, can only be confirmed by communicating with them via an appointment. During the first session, one can inquire more about the therapist’s methods.
Now should the first choice not be okay, it is alright to find another. Therapy will not be helpful if the counselor is not who the family needs, so continue looking until the right one has been found.
Considering the Costs
Cost is always a big issue as therapy is not cheap. However, always keep in mind that this is an investment in the family. While money can be recouped in due time, a broken family may never be the same again. Serious family problems may even be the cause of much bigger, future expenses (e.g. alimony, hospitalization, lawsuits) which is why it is best to resolve issues sooner rather than later.
Aside from having the right view of therapy, it is necessary to consider how to pay. It is important to consult with one’s insurance provider first to see if family therapy can be covered. Then, of course, check with the therapist as not all are willing to accept insurance for various reasons.
Be honest about the family’s income situation so that the right help can be given. Some therapists bill clients according to their income level, especially if the client has no insurance. There are also newer therapists in the field who charge lower fees as they are still getting started. In some cities or towns, there may be non-profit groups in the area who offer therapy for lower rates as well. What matters is that the family receives the right help soon.
Seeking Help from Christian Counseling
Despite the availability of many secular therapists out there who may provide help, many families now are tapping the services of a Christian family counselor.
Similar to the secular therapists, the Christian counselor will also use the latest counseling methods to get to the root of the problem; and re-establish proper communication and accountability amongst members.
But most importantly, Christian family counseling seeks to connect all the members to our Lord Jesus Christ through prayer and meditation on Scripture, allowing hearts to change and become more dependent on God. Many family issues arise because family members are living for themselves, placing personal needs first.
However, when God becomes the center of the family, He gives wisdom to help members balance their time; view one another in a more loving way; and have the grace and patience to love one another despite the differences.
If your family or a family you know is experiencing difficult family issues at home, seek help soon from a Christian family counselor. With God’s help, nothing is impossible.
“Family at Home,” Courtesy of Normalityrelief, Flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0 License; “Family Outing,” Courtesy of Valerie Everett, Flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0); “Hug,” courtesy of O.C. Gonzalez, unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Family Strolll,” courtesy of PublicDomainImages, Pixabay.com, CC0 License