What You Need to Know About Family Counselling — A Guide

family counselling

Receiving therapy as an individual is challenging enough, but adding family to the mix can be an even more intimidating experience. It’s only natural to be apprehensive about the first family therapy session because you may not know what to expect!

After filling up the required paperwork to record personal medical and mental health histories of any family incidents, the first session will begin. If your family is considering receiving family counselling and support services, then this guide is a perfect starting point to prepare you for a successful and fruitful session. 

The First Session

The first session is where the therapist gets to know the family members. After explaining the process of family therapy and handling confidential statements, each member of the family is allowed to speak with the therapist, who will typically ask what brought them to therapy and the main stressors they’re currently facing. 

Succeeding Sessions

After gathering enough information from the first session, the therapist can now probe into issues raised or implied during the initial meeting. These will typically be issues in communication and how the family functions as a unit. 

Therapy will sometimes involve all family members, individuals, or certain family members together. Counsellors will often focus on family members who are having the most difficulty and those in optimal positions to inspire family changes for the better. 

Types of Counselling

There are many types of family counselling available to suit a family’s specific needs. Therapists may use these as standalone methods or in combination with other counselling techniques. 

Some of the most common types of counselling are as follows:

  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy – thoughts are assessed and adapted to help create changes in behaviour.
  • Relationship Therapy – focuses on relationship strains within the family, particularly with adult members, such as the parents.
  • Structural Therapy – the family structure is examined and changed.
  • Narrative Therapy – stories and experiences are shared for each family member to learn from.
  • Psychodynamic Therapy – unconscious thoughts are uncovered to identify the roots of family issues.
  • Transgenerational Therapy – involves the examination of past and current generations and the challenges between them.

Commonly Addressed Issues in Family Counselling

Healthy families can fall into dysfunctional ones depending on the circumstances, while other families are dysfunctional from the very start. If the following issues are present in your family, then consider working with a professional counsellor to resolve them through family therapy. 

Issues With Marriage or Partnership

Adult relationships are especially important because any marriage or partnership issues can affect the family’s overall well-being. Typical issues in this relationship involve communication, expectations of each other on roles as parents, or sexual concerns. 

Marriage and family counselling works by resolving issues in the partnership to decrease family conflict and improve functioning. 

Issues Between Parents and Children

While parents and children share an especially strong bond, it does not mean that they will always be on good terms—especially as the child grows into adulthood. Both parties can cause strain on the relationship depending on how they behave towards each other. 

Parent-child dysfunctions can include being too strict or permissive, child abuse or neglect, lack of communication, favouritism, and more. 

Issues Between Siblings

Commonly referred to as a sibling rivalry, most people assume that this relationship of constant fighting and competition is normal. However, it can become dysfunctional fairly quickly, especially where bullying is involved. 

Siblings that hurt each other on purpose do so out of emotional distress. It’s one of the most difficult family issues to resolve for parents, so getting a professional’s counselling services can help restore balance to sibling relationships tremendously. 


Family therapy can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it can work wonders for families who are struggling to get along with each other. It can be a bit uncomfortable to share one’s truth in front of family members, even with a therapist’s presence; fortunately, these professionals are skilled in mitigating conflicts during therapy and using the information shared to work towards tangible solutions. 

At Chettiar Counselling & Associates, we provide family counselling support services in Guelph and other locations. By giving our clients non-judgemental spaces to process pain during psychotherapy, we can help solve some of their most difficult challenges. Contact us today for a no-cost phone consultation to determine if any of our services are right for you.