Family counselling is a common way to resolve marital issues or other family problems such as children misbehaving. Deciding to get counselling is a brave step toward change. However, it can be intimidating, especially if it is your first time. It also doesn’t help that there are many misconceptions about what goes on in a family counselling session.
But do not let fear of the unknown stop you and your family members from getting the help you need to have a better relationship. Preparing for your first session will make the process easier for everyone in your family.
In this article, we talk about how your family can benefit from counselling and more importantly, how you can prepare for your first session.
Family Counselling: What It Is and What to Expect
Family counselling is a good way for problems within the home to be addressed. Moreover, it can help people of all ages. There are many advantages to taking advantage of family counselling in your own home, and it is an excellent tool to address issues that your family may be facing.
For one, counselling can help to break down the problems in your family. Families can be complicated, and it’s often difficult to see how they work. When a problem arises, it feels overwhelming, like you can’t do anything about it. Talking openly and honestly with a counsellor helps you make sense of it all. This means relief from stress and tension, so everyone in the family can find their own space again.
To add, many family members have strong feelings about their relationships and may not get along at all. Family counselling can help by allowing a neutral third party to facilitate positive communication among family members. It can help them discover hidden issues and goals that they had not thought of before, posing serious problems in the home.
Admittedly, it can be stressful to go through the process of getting counselling. The sessions can be delicate, fraught with emotion and confusion. However, you need to remember that counselling is for the benefit of your family in the long run.
Counselling has been proven to help families bond again, even in situations where all seems lost. The issues addressed in counselling will also help relieve stress from yourself, as well as your partner and even the children. The sooner you get help for your family, the better it will be for everyone.
How Do You Prepare for Your First Family Counselling Session?
Getting professional counselling isn’t always easy, but once you start, it should be an exciting process that has a positive impact on all family members. Coming prepared for your first session can be very helpful in easing your anxiety and making the most out of your time with the counsellor. Remember, preparation can make the difference between success and failure.
To prepare for your first session, you need to:
- Have a pre-session conference.
- Assign a family member to handle scheduling and planning.
- Come prepared with questions and topics.
- Write down your goals.
- Think about what you want to share.
- Agree to confidentiality.
Have a pre-session conference.
Sit down as a family before the first session and discuss what you hope to get out of therapy, what your goals are, and how you think it will help you improve your relationships with each other.
Do you want to resolve conflict within the family? Learn better communication skills? Find ways to help a child who’s having trouble in school? Whatever it is, write down a list of goals for counselling (both for yourself as an individual and for your family as a whole). This will help keep everyone focused on the central issues at hand during the session.
Also, set ground rules for your sessions together, such as not interrupting one another or speaking with respect. You may want to create a signal that lets everyone know when someone is not following the rules so that you don’t have to call anyone out specifically.
Assign a family member to handle scheduling and planning.
Choose one person from the family who will be responsible for making appointments and keeping track of information shared during sessions. It’s essential to have one point person who can keep everyone on track as far as scheduling and planning goes, rather than trying to share that responsibility among several people.
Come prepared with questions and topics.
You should also be prepared with questions you want to ask and topics you want to tackle. Remember, it is easy to forget things, especially when discussions get heated. Hence, it would be helpful to write down topics and questions beforehand.
The first session is also an opportunity for clients to get to know their counsellor. So, you can also prepare questions that can help you get to know your counsellor and her process. You can ask them about their qualifications, past experience and approach to family counselling. You can even ask them what they would do in certain scenarios or the goals they set for their clients.
Write down your goals.
If you’re coming into family counselling with certain expectations in mind, write them down so you can share them with the therapist at the start of the session. This will help her best meet your needs and reach your goals more quickly.
Think about what you want to share.
When it comes to family counselling, many people are understandably nervous about sharing certain thoughts and feelings. While it’s important to be honest when talking to your counsellor, there’s no need to feel like you have to divulge every little thing about your life.
Before your first session, think about what you want to share and how much of that information you want the rest of your family or friends to know. You can also speak with the counsellor privately before the rest of your family joins in. This will allow you time to build trust and confidentiality with the therapist before bringing everyone else into the mix.
Once everyone is together, don’t force a discussion right away just because someone else may be ready to talk. Wait until each person has a chance to explore some thoughts and then, together as a group or individually, listen for any themes that emerge from those individual conversations.
Each session should focus on building trust among family members so that they can ultimately feel more comfortable discussing their problems as a group instead of as individuals.
Agree to confidentiality.
Most of the time, a family counsellor will tell you something called confidentiality during your first visit. But what does confidentiality really mean?
It means that your counsellor has no right to share anything you say during the sessions with other people without your permission—and they shouldn’t do so without a very good reason.
If a counsellor breaks their confidentiality agreement and tells other people about something you said, they have done something unethical and illegal. They must follow the law by keeping everything confidential unless there is an extremely serious reason otherwise.
However, keep in mind that there are some exceptions to confidentiality. Some of these include:
- if a counsellor believes that someone is being harmed or put at risk
- if your children are being abused or neglected
- if someone is warning another person that they are going to hurt them or someone else
- if the counsellor needs to break confidentiality for research purposes (only after removing anything that identifies you).
Usually, before starting therapy sessions, the counsellor asks their clients to sign an agreement promising them these things. They also typically have clients sign agreements promising not to sue their counsellor for what happens during the sessions or any mistakes they make (unless it’s an extremely serious mistake).
Family counselling can help you and your family solve hurdles to reaching your full potential, deal with your personal struggles and repair damaged relationships. It is a great way to work through issues, but it is helpful to be prepared for the first session to make the most out of it.
Lastly, remember that your first session is just beginning a long journey. Don’t expect there to be a quick fix. Be prepared for it to take some time, and don’t get discouraged if progress is slow. It can take several sessions before you start getting to the real heart of your problems.
Are you thinking of getting family counselling in Dublin? Our qualified family counsellors have several families overcome their challenges and have better relationships. To book an appointment, call us on 01 5240708 or click here.