2078 Teron Trace #326, Dacula, GA 30019 | (678) 205-0838

Individual vs Family Counseling

Many family problems can be solved without ever needing external help. But there are times when issues are too much to bear that family counseling might be needed to heal rifts and improve dynamics.


While admitting to needing help is a brave step, the question of should members seek individual counseling, or should they come as a unit for family counseling? There are certain benefits to individual counseling, but there are also disadvantages – the same goes for family counseling.


Does preferring one over the other yield better results?


The Case for Family Counseling Over Individual Counseling


Some of the issues brought up by individual clients are better addressed when the rest of the family is available. Doing so allows the members to better understand the needs of the individual to ensure relations improve at home. For instance, a spouse who finds it difficult to communicate concerns to their partner can learn to communicate with the partner by doing so in counseling where the counselor can serve as facilitator and coach. This also helps the partner learn how to listen and understand the communication style and needs of their partner.


The influence of family shouldn’t be ignored when treating an individual client. A client’s experience with their family affects who they are as a person. To provide possible solutions, a counselor must understand a person’s family not only from the perspective of the client but also the real family dynamics. For example, when working with an adolescent, it is frequently helpful to work with the parents and adolescent to implement effective intervention for true change to occur.


Sometimes, what can be affecting an individual’s current relationships are unresolved issues with their own parents or family of origin. Therefore, it’s important to understand the family background to ensure the best possible outcome to truly bring about lasting change in a client’s life.


Understanding the family is key to helping many individual clients, particularly those with constant emotional problems. It would be better to have the family in person but when that is difficult to accomplish, counselors can still bring in the family by having clients create a family tree while noting issues with mental health and relationships, so clients can see patterns.


The Problem with Family Counseling Compared to Individual Counseling

Although counselors might bring up the benefits of bringing in the family for counseling sessions, their sole focus during individual therapy is helping the individual client. So, the family or family members come in as collaterals to the individual clients’ counseling. Therefore, such a situation is not considered family counseling, but individual counseling with family collaterals. However, when the family comes in, frequently it becomes difficult for family members to understand this concept. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the client is not used as a scapegoat as that clearly won’t improve dynamics when they get back home.


Counselors need to observe family behavior to be able to help. Even subtle reactions to what an individual is saying should be noted. This makes counseling an entire family a challenge but bringing everyone in can make addressing problems easier as well.


In short, there’s a lot going on when the family is brought in to a session. Counselors who aren’t so adept at multi-tasking might find it hard to observe both verbal and non-verbal clues when there is more than one person in the room.


There are benefits to individual counseling but the role of family in the shaping of an individual should not be ignored. Whether or not a family comes in for a session, it’s important to bring discuss family and family dynamics to provide the assistance a client needs to better their lives.


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2078 Teron Trace #326 | Phone: 678-205-0838
Dacula, GA 30019 | Fax: 678-318-3405
Contact us at: info@psychologygwinnett.com