Time spent with family can be stressful. For many people, the holidays and time spent at home are a difficult period because being with their relatives, the family that they were born into, can for whatever reason be overwhelming and taxing. Whether it’s the conversations or something amiss in the family dynamic, what is meant to be a time of relaxation and celebration becomes a chore at the best of times.
Family is meant to be an institution for nurture, growth, joy, and flourishing. When we go through tragedy, or when we’re celebrating, our family is one space where we should feel encouraged and supported. The gap between what is and what ought to be is often a yawning chasm.
What can families do about this reality? Some have chosen to ignore the issues, and they power through the awkwardness and pain. Other families have floundered under the strain. One avenue of aid is to seek the Christian family counseling from a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.
God has a plan for families, whatever the shape of yours may be. Getting help in the form of Christian family counseling can make the difference between a family struggling and limping along, and a healthy, supportive, and nurturing family environment.
Christian Family Counseling: What’s That?
Christian family counseling is a form of counseling that looks to address the family as a unit to bring about flourishing for both individuals in the family and the family as a whole. Individual counseling, on the other hand, is primarily focused on addressing the concerns of the individual.
Christian family counseling addresses the family or individuals within it as is proper. Often, when one member of the family is going through something, it affects the others. If one of the children is having difficulties at school, it can affect how they interact with their siblings.
If one of the parents is facing mental health challenges or is dealing with grief, it will affect how they relate to their spouse and the family too. Family counseling recognizes this interconnectedness within the family, and the therapeutic techniques take that reality into account.
Does My Family Need Counseling?
Whether you and your family require counseling is something you must decide for yourselves. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, facing challenges for which you feel ill-equipped, or maybe you’re just feeling stuck, you can turn to Christian family counseling for help.
You don’t have to be a Christian to receive help from Christian family counseling, though the approach and emphases of the therapy will address spirituality as an important part of the whole. A Christian therapist will help you and your family identify behaviors that may be inconsistent with what God’s word says and that may be hindering your growth.
Christian family therapists are trained and licensed in the same way as other therapists who have training in psychology and understand the complexity of human relationships. One major difference is that a Christian therapist is also guided by Scripture and prayer, combined with their training in psychology. They help you address issues in your family life that are taking away from what God intends for his people.
Christian family therapists deal with a wide variety of issues. The issues they deal with include mental health challenges and relational dynamics within the family. They teach coping skills and tools to communicate more effectively so that the family can deal with changes and challenges in a healthy way. Here are some of the areas in which you can get help from a Christian family therapist:
Encouraging and strengthening your faith and relationship with God.
There are many challenges in living faithfully and connected with God. Sometimes work pressures, school, adolescence, or peer pressure and so much more can complicate or undermine one’s relationship with God. It might be that one of the family members is struggling with their faith, or that as a family you’ve been through a crisis that has rattled your faith.
Address trauma and abuse.
Living as we do in an imperfect world, we and our families may experience trauma and abuse. Trauma may occur through an event like a car accident, being mugged, experiencing a natural disaster, etc. Emotional or physical abuse can have a huge effect on mental health, and they need to be addressed in a safe environment
Social media addiction.
With easy and constant access to the internet, we can lose ourselves and our families to cyberspace; people can spend more time online than they do with their families, and they can become more invested in what happens online than what happens in their own home.
Help address marital issues.
Marriages face many challenges, and Christian family therapy can help you to work to avoid divorce, address infidelity, strengthen your emotional and physical intimacy, improve poor communication, etc.
Dealing with grief and loss.
Losing a loved one when they die or experiencing other losses such as divorce or relocation and leaving familiar people and places may take an emotional toll. Therapy can create the space you need to process those emotions.
Porn addiction affects men, women, and children. It can damage relationships and produce distorted views of sex and sexuality, which can devastate your marriage, and negatively affect both work and school performance.
Substance abuse and addiction.
Addictions can end up ruling a person’s life, dictating their choices, breaking relationships and trust. Therapy can help not only with uncovering underlying issues that may be driving addictive behaviors but providing ways to overcome addiction and begin making healthy life choices
Children face a wide variety of challenges, and parents desire to help their children work through those difficulties. You may be dealing with a willful child, or other challenges such a mental health issues, learning disabilities, bullying, eating disorders, and so on. Therapy will not only inform your understanding of the issues but provide you with the tools you need to support one another.
A Christian family counselor can address these and many other concerns you may have and be dealing with. If your family life is affected by anyone or several of these issues, seeking the help of a therapist may be the best next step to take for your family’s sake.
Getting the Help You Need
If you decide to seek help, you need to find a counselor that works for you and your family. The first obstacle to overcome, however, is that sometimes people hesitate to find help because of feelings of shame or a sense of failure. We all have different struggles, and when you reach your limit, the best thing you can do for your family is to take that courageous first step and ask for help.
If you’re looking for a therapist, you can find licensed and trained Christian marriage and family therapists at your local church, and they also have independent practices in medical centers and elsewhere. Alternatively, a family member, friend, or spiritual advisor that you trust can refer you to a therapist.
If you don’t want to go into a brick-and-mortar office for your sessions, doing your sessions via online therapy is a possibility. The online option is attractive if you find a therapist you want to work with, but they are a long drive away or you can’t coordinate your schedule to attend in person, or if you have privacy concerns.
Another key point in finding a therapist that works for you is to check that their beliefs and approach align with yours, otherwise it may not work for you. Your relationship with your therapist is key to success in counseling and debating the meaning of certain passages of the Bible instead of getting on with the work may be an obstacle.
Because Christian therapists use a broad range of tools including evidence-based counseling methods like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), prayer, and Scripture, they address the whole person, including your spiritual needs.
When you’ve chosen the therapist you and your family want to work with, they’ll get a feel for what your needs are, work with you to set your goals, and set out steps to achieve them. Take that first step towards wholeness and look for a therapist who can help your family find the peace, joy, and flourishing you yearn for.
“Tough Times”, Courtesy of Ben White, Unsplash.com; CC0 License; “Family”, Courtesy of John-Mark Smith, Unsplash.com, CC0 License;”Reading Together”, Courtesy of Ben White, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Difficult roads…beautiful destinations”, Courtesy of Hello I’m Nik, Unsplash.com, CC0 License