Doing Family Therapy as a New Social Worker: The Do’s and Don’ts

Family therapy can provide a unique set of difficulties. Counselling a single person with a big personality is difficult enough; add more individuals to the appointment, and the situation may quickly become difficult to handle. 

This is true for family units seeking mental health treatment, whether they are married couples, new parents, or families experiencing sibling conflict. Below is some family therapy do’s and don’ts that professionals may utilise to guide their sessions and assist families in achieving healthy outcomes.

Allow family dynamics to emerge naturally

It is critical to allow family structures and connections to emerge spontaneously during the first session. Appearances may be deceptive, and the complicated difficulties that each family faces cannot be adequately conveyed in an introduction. 

Try to set aside any socioeconomic or demographic information about your family that may result in assumptions or stereotypes. While asking questions that steer the conversation, in general, is an effective method to retain control, counsellors should avoid attempting to elicit responses that support their agendas.

Take no sides

Counsellors are aware that they must act as the room’s leader. With family consultations, this ideal may be attacked from all directions. Even an ethical activity might be seen in the eyes of one family member as intended to harm, expose, or attack them.

Counsellors must tread a thin line when working with families since they frequently facilitate connections. Consider the situation in which one member of the family complains about another (who is also physically present), and the counsellor responds with a question that may be seen as supporting an attack or claim that the target of the complaint believes is unjust and ununderstood. An enraged family member may grasp on the barest suggestion of picking sides and drag the counsellor into turmoil.

Ask why the family is seeking counseling

Counselling is a final choice for some families that are unable to recognise marital or family problems. However, for families to make any progress once therapy begins, they must identify the issue that prompted them to seek help. 

Although vocalising difficulties and being honest is tough, counsellors must persuade the family to explain why they have elected therapy sessions to improve their home, personal, and professional life. In family therapy, establishing group appreciation for the feelings and thoughts of all participants fosters a counselling atmosphere conducive to treatment success and family resolution.

Never overlook the importance of considering emotions within the framework of dynamics

Often, it’s easy to discern how one client feels about another family member. Anger and mistrust (along with other emotions) express themselves plainly. Even when relatives make an effort to disguise their feelings, they frequently reveal themselves throughout the ritual. It is important to realize how individuals feel inside does not project the whole picture of how their families are affected. 

Interactions between a child and his father, a mother and her daughter, or a husband and his wife can serve as more reliable barometers of unresolved difficulties. If informed, individuals recognise when they have committed a mistake. 

When one is subjected to silent treatment, it becomes more difficult to discern the underlying issue. Often, the behavior has to be addressed for families to operate well, not the feelings that these behaviors produce.

Families are some of the most difficult clients that counselors may face. They will need to employ all of their education, evidence-based treatments, empathy, and analytical abilities to assist clients, the types of tools that grow through time with experience, patience, and training.

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