The Benefits Of Family Counseling

By: Michael Puskar

Updated July 30, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Audrey Kelly, LMFT

There are many benefits to seeking family counseling. Unfortunately, there are just as many obstacles that prevent families from seeking it. Individuals and families often do not realize that the barriers preventing them from seeking counseling are in fact the same ones affecting the ability of the family to adapt to change, communicate, avoid a crisis, or cope with a tragic event. In this article, you will learn why family counseling can be a valuable asset and how you can find the right counselor.

Wondering If Your Family Could Benefit From Counseling?
Speak With A Licensed Marriage And Family Therapist Now.


Reasons for Seeking Family Counseling

When families seek counseling, it is often because they have come to an impasse in their ability not only to resolve problems but also to recognize the origins and triggers of issues. Conflict arises in all families. Many families are not equipped to deal with these conflicts, and issues that are left unresolved can lead to a crisis. When a family reaches a crisis state, one or more family members may seek drastic measures to alleviate pain or stress. [5]

During times of crisis, individuals and families often find themselves in a fight or flight situation. Unfortunately, many individuals feel that fighting is the same as fighting for. When someone is fighting for their family, that means they are actively looking for ways to resolve issues, that they are working at mediating issues between other family members. The alternative to fighting for the family unit is to take flight and abandon the family unit. [7]

Ways that adults escape include:

  • working extra hours
  • spending extra time at the gym
  • developing new hobbies or interests or spending more time on old ones
  • going out after work
  • substance abuse
  • cheating
  • separation and/or divorce

Ways that teens escape include:

  • video games
  • friends and social activities
  • phone and social media
  • school activities or sports
  • sleeping
  • drugs
  • running away

When a family member reaches a crisis, they may feel the need for a permanent escape and contempate suicide. It is critical that families seek help before any member arrives at this point.

If life just feels too overwhelming right now, you are not alone. By reaching out to a therapist who is experienced in helping people with personal and family crises, you can be saving your life, or the life of someone close to you. All families experience conflict, but with family therapy, members can learn how to address issues productively.


Proactive vs. Reactive Family Counseling

The first step to productive counseling is realizing that there is nothing wrong with needing help. [14] People should not place themselves in emotional or physical danger for fear of other family members or the neighbors talking. Counseling should not be kept a secret because it is embarrassing; it should be kept confidential because it is private information that shouldn't be shared with anyone without your permission.

Family members who have reached a state of crisis may also be in a state of shock. Although ideally members would seek counseling before reaching a state of crisis, this is often not the case. [1] Sometimes families have lived in a state of dysfunction for so long that they do not know anything else, and it takes being shaken up by a tragic event to consider seeking help. Challenges such as infidelity, substance abuse, divorce, or death may cause families to seek help.

Counseling should be proactive, not reactive. Good family counseling offers opportunities for intervention before such tragic events occur.

Benefits of Family Counseling

When a family is in crisis, counseling provides a safe environment where members can feel free to express feelings, ask questions, and generate ideas. There may also be times when families just need a quiet, neutral zone where there are no reminders of conflict [4]. Once a family commits to working with a counselor, they can begin exploring strategies for improving communication and building or rebuilding healthy relationships [5]. In counseling, families can learn:

  • listening skills
  • how to avoid connotative language
  • to avoid triggers
  • to think before reacting
  • to respect boundaries
  • conversation skills
  • communication skills
  • how to express empathy
  • how to have unconditional positive regard for other family members
  • to clearly define a role and identify within the family and as an individual
  • how to help and not hurt loved ones
  • that anger is not hatred
  • how to dislike actions and still love the actor
  • how to use "I" vs. "you" statements while still communicating needs and desires
  • how parents can demonstrate respect toward children, and recognize children's need for space and individuality without giving up a position of authority
  • how body language speaks louder than words
  • how to ask for help
  • how to receive help

The above list is not exhaustive. There are many benefits to family counseling that are unique to each family unit and its situation.

Wondering If Your Family Could Benefit From Counseling?
Speak With A Licensed Marriage And Family Therapist Now.


There are many life-changing events when families can benefit from counseling, and not all of them are negative. Seeking counseling to help everyone with the adjustment period is helpful and could mean the difference between positive vs. negative outcomes.

Consider Family Therapy with BetterHelp

Families are not static. Their dynamics are constantly changing. If families do not communicate through conversation, planning, and developing strategies for coping, such changes can develop into a negative event for the family.

Families do not need to wait for a crisis or for a major event to seek help. There are licensed and skilled family counselors online who are trained to meet the needs of the family and the individuals within it.

Online counseling services offer flexible communication options, such as email, chat, and video conferencing, as well as flexible fees and payment methods. You don't need the hassle of sitting in traffic to get to your appointment, and your entire family can access BetterHelp's network of licensed counselors from the comfort and privacy of your own home (or wherever you have an Internet connection).Below are some reviews of BetterHelp counselors from people experiencing a range of family challenges.

Counselor Reviews

"I came on to BetterHelp because I felt like I was a breaking point with my mental health and was having issues with my family that was going in no direction towards a solution. I met Kelli and with a few days of exploding and venting I felt so much better . I felt even better after a couple of weeks of discussing the different issues at home and she helped me look at things in different perspectives . I'm learning to relax and not waste my energies on pointless issues and issues that I don't have control over."

"After counseling with Dr Cothern for 4 weeks I have seen a huge difference in myself and my relationships with my family, she has helped me to see that what I am doing is good for me and that I shouldn't beat myself up when I do it say something that might be seen as being too forceful when really its not."


When you reach out for help, you and your family members can start tackling problems head-on with productive methods.Family counseling because can make a significant difference in the health and happiness of all members. Take the first step today.


  1. Basinger, E. (2014). Communication for Families in Crisis: Theories, Research, Strategies , by Dickson, F. C., & Webb, L. M. (Eds.). Health Communication, 29(3), 321-322.
  2. Bouchard, G. (2014). How Do Parents React When Their Children Leave Home? An Integrative Review. Journal of Adult Development, 21(2), 69-79.
  3. Castro, S. de, & Guterman, J. T. (2008). Solution-Focused Therapy for Families Coping with Suicide. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy; Hoboken, 34(1), 93-106.
  4. Crittenden, P. M., & Dallos, R. (2009). All in the Family: Integrating Attachment and Family Systems Theories. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 14(3), 389-409.
  5. Cummings, E. M., & Schatz, J. N. (2012). Family Conflict, Emotional Security, and Child Development: Translating Research Findings into a Prevention Program for Community Families. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review; New York, 15(1), 14-27.
  6. Furstenberg, F. F., & Jr. (2010). On a New Schedule: Transitions to Adulthood and Family Change. The Future of Children; Princeton, 20(1). Retrieved from ;
  7. Hultman, T., Jackson, V., & Rinehart, T. (2010). Working with Families in Crisis: A Strength-Based Approach (525). Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 39(2), 417-418.
  8. Mitchell, B. A., & Wister, A. V. (2015). Midlife Challenge or Welcome Departure? Cultural and Family-Related Expectations of Empty Nest Transitions. International Journal Of Aging & Human Development, 81(4), 260-280.
  9. Parker, S. K., Bindl, U. K., & Strauss, K. (2010). Making Things Happen: A Model of Proactive Motivation. Journal of Management, 36(4), 827-856.
  10. Patterson, T. (2014). A Cognitive Behavioral Systems Approach to Family Therapy. Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 25(2), 132-144.
  11. Rosen, E., Ackermen, L., & Zosky, D. (2002). The sibling Empty Nest Syndrome: The Experience of Sadness as Sibling Leave The Family Home. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 6(1), 65.
  12. Stanley, B., & Brown, G. K. (2012). Safety Planning Intervention: A Brief Intervention to Mitigate Suicide Risk. Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19(2), 256-264.
  13. STUIFBERGEN, M. C., VAN DELDEN, J. J. M., & DYKSTRA, P. A. (2008). The implications of today's family structures for support giving to older parents. Ageing and Society; Cambridge, 28(3), 413-434.
  14. Welton, D. (2006). BEING NORMAL: SOCIAL STIGMA AGAINST THE MENTALLY ILL AND THEIR FAMILIES. Journal of Pastoral Counseling, 41. Retrieved from

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