By reading this article you’re taking the first step in what can be a journey of healing and hope. We’ll discuss different types of family counselors, how to select one who’s right for you, and how to budget for counseling. Take the time to consider each point in the selection process, and you’ll be equipped to make an informed decision.
Does My Family Need Therapy?
Just as with physical illness, early treatment for family issues can prevent many problems later on. Unfortunately, many of us don’t seek relational help until we are at our wits’ end.
You’ve probably made several attempts to heal the brokenness in your family. Maybe you feel like you’re in crisis mode now. Counseling becomes the last resort when you’ve done everything else. If you’re at this point, there is hope.
Secrecy empowers sin and strife. As painful as it can be to talk about what’s going on, verbalizing the issues can offer massive relief and help you figure out what to do next.
If you’re not in crisis yet, be encouraged. It’s wonderful to seek help early. Your problems are not too small; rather, they have huge potential for healing when they’re brought out into the open before they’ve taken over and destroyed lives.
What is the first thing to consider in your search for a counselor? Take a step back and assess your family’s most pressing needs. Although not everyone will immediately let their guard down in counseling, each member of the family should feel emotionally safe and honored in therapy.
What Are Your Family’s Specific Needs?
Do your best to nail down your family’s specific counseling needs, because some family counselors specialize in specific areas of treatment.
What areas of your family life need the most help? Many families seek help for their children in a group setting to offer their support. Sometimes couples need help with communication issues, or parents feel overwhelmed and want to set new and healthier patterns.
Read through the following types of therapy and think about which one(s) may meet your needs:
Counseling for couples can really run the gamut from neutral to desperate situations, but it’s not just for the desperate situations, even though many people associate marriage counseling with imminent divorce.
Couples therapy can apply to you if you are in a relationship or engaged or married. Maybe you’re in a destructive conflict cycle, or you just need help communicating effectively, or you want to strengthen your relationship even though you’re not having any major issues now.
Behavior intervention applies to children who are struggling with problem behaviors, or to adults who are behaving inappropriately either in public or at home. In the family therapy setting, parents and the child will work with the counselor to identify unacceptable behaviors, set boundaries, and create rewards systems, along with other helpful skills.
This type of therapy really thrives on parental involvement. The parents can witness the tools the therapist uses during sessions, and then practice applying those skills at home with their child.
Behavior intervention for children usually starts with a conversation between the therapist and the parents. The therapist usually asks about three components of problem behaviors:
- What happens before?
- What happens during?
- What happens after?
Once the parents explain how these situations normally transpire, the therapist will work with them and their child to change everyone’s behavior in all three areas by using education and practical skill development.
Behavior intervention focuses on both parents and children, but parent coaching focuses on the parents and how they can improve their skills. Children may be present for sessions, but the therapy won’t focus primarily on their behavior.
As opposed to an interventional approach, coaching helps parents develop positive skills to become more effective in nurturing their child(ren)’s physical, emotional, and social wellbeing. Coaching will address discipline, helping children to listen and obey, and setting appropriate boundaries for each member of the family.
Do you feel that your relationship with your child has had a breakdown, and you’re not sure where to turn to fix the damage? Family therapy can help rebuild your relationship and find the right parenting method for this particular child.
Children going through puberty or experiencing life stress or mental health issues may struggle to have a good relationship with their parents. They may exhibit disrespect and dislike. Parents also deal with life stressors, mental health issues, and other factors that can make positive parenting difficult.
Counseling can help stop unhealthy patterns and replace them with healthy habits that will facilitate a thriving relationship between parent and child.
Navigating Systems Involvement
Child Protective Services, law enforcement, or the schools may involve themselves in family life for a number of different reasons. Families in crisis often have experienced intervention in one or more of these areas. How do you navigate these systems? A clinical social worker can provide advocacy and therapeutic support.
What’s Most Important in a Family Therapist?
In large part, the success of your counseling experience depends on your comfort level with your chosen therapist. Therapists have different beliefs, skills, and temperaments. Some use tough love, while others have a gentler approach. Not everyone’s personalities will mesh well together, so it’s important that yours is a good fit with your counselor’s.
It’s not unusual to meet with a couple of therapists before you find the best one for you. Remember, you can interview them by asking questions about their practice and what the process usually looks like.
Before you even meet with them, you can screen out potential problems online by reading about their practice and any articles or blogs they’ve written. Finding the right personality and specialization will help you get the most out of therapy.
What kind of practice does your potential therapist work in? What are their specializations? Maybe you have young children, but your potential therapist is most experienced in working with adult children and parents. A therapist with child-specific experience may be skilled in using play therapy in the family counseling setting.
If you are looking for a faith-based counselor, you’ll want to carefully screen therapists to make sure you won’t be working from conflicting worldviews.
Budgeting for therapy can concern potential clients quite a bit, so it’s important to discuss this practical side of seeking counseling.
First, consider the value you place on therapy and the perspective that it can preventative medicine for your family relationships. Yes, therapy is expensive, but as counselors, we truly believe it’s worth it.
Next, sit down and figure out exactly what you can afford to spend. When a therapist bills insurance directly, they are considered an in-network-provider. These providers will take payment from you and bill your insurance for you.
Some therapists will directly bill your insurance, making them an in-network provider. But many therapists don’t take insurance due to high operating costs; instead, they operate as out-of-network providers.
With an out-of-network provider, you will pay a fee for each session and receive a receipt. You can give the receipt to your insurance provider, and they may reimburse you for some or all of the fee.
Before you attend your first session, please call your insurance provider to find out if they will reimburse you for any counseling services rendered.
What if you don’t have insurance, or your insurance won’t cover counseling? You can choose to pay out-of-pocket for each session, most of which run between $150 and $200 each. Some therapists may have different fees or operate on a sliding scale based on income.
Both fees and sliding scales vary widely among individual therapists and practices, based on operating costs, client income, practice size, etc., so don’t hesitate to look in several places to find an option that meets your family’s needs.
If you don’t think you’ll be able to make private therapy work for your family, you may be able to find a non-profit provider who takes state insurance or a local clinic that offers inexpensive therapy. Some people are able to meet with counseling interns who are in the process of receiving their master’s degree or licensure and can offer therapy at a reduced rate.
Where Can I Find a Family Therapist Near Me?
Now that you’ve considered some of the most important factors of finding the right family therapist for your needs, a good first step is to call your insurance company to discuss in-network providers who will bill sessions to them.
If you are looking for Christian counseling, you may be interested in our practice at Newport Beach Christian Counseling. We are one of the largest faith-based counseling practices, offering skilled, compassionate therapy for families, couples, and individuals. Visit our website to find a family therapist near you.
“Family”, Courtesy of Laurel Harvey, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Resting”, Courtesy of Ardanea, Morguefile.com, CC 2.0 License, “Her own girl”, Courtesy of Ian Dooley, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “FlattopFamilyTime,” Courtesy of Flattop341, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)