Working with families can follow a different path to individual counselling sessions. If you are looking for a counsellor in Wellington (or online or by phone), some things to consider might be:
Counselling Session Length
Therapy sessions can be longer for family or other group work, as there needs to be time for all people to share. While 50 minutes to an hour is a norm for individual therapeutic work, couples and larger families can need an hour and a half or two hours. Two hours would be the maximum advisable, as fatigue can become a problem and distract from therapy.
Counselling Family and Couples Individually
While it is common to have all or most family members present, there are sometimes reasons to see individual members separately. Why? This can differ from one situation to the next, but sometimes the therapist will want to see (for example) a husband and a wife separately for a session in order to help with processing of strong emotion. After this, the couple will again come to therapy together.
While clients have a right to confidentially, subject to normal practice for therapists (e.g. having their own counselling supervision sessions, where they see a senior therapist themselves), family therapy adds some complexity to confidentiality. When I begin counselling couples, for example, I will begin by noting that while their session is confidential externally, there is no confidentiality between the therapist and either partner. This is both logical and practical. If the therapist assists one partner in keeping a secret from the other, this “aligns” the therapist with one partner over the other. It can also make the therapist avoid needed conversations. The therapist should never be a party to keeping a secret from one partner in couples and family work. The clients need to understand that what they say is private from the outside world, but not within the sessions. So, if one person attempts to whisper something to the therapist, this is not communication protected from the other client involved in the family counselling session.
Differing Counselling Therapy Approaches
Some approaches lend themselves to groups, couples and families. Concepts of family scripts – where it is conceptualised that people follow scripts developed with significant others in past relationships – can bring insight and assistance in some therapy. Sometimes Narrative Therapy can be the preferred counselling modality, as it attempts to look at family stories. What is ultimately used depends on the circumstances, including the therapist’s preferred and competent modalities.
Wellington Family Counselling
The list above is not exhaustive, but should give a glimpse into some of the additional considerations for those seeking family and couples counselling. Find the best therapist for you and your family in Wellington by looking into what therapy involves. Resources are being created on this site to help you do just that – to be informed.