Happy Families. Myth or fiction?
Maintaining happy and healthy families is probably one of the most challenging things we have to do in life! It’s normal for families to find it challenging at times to get the balance right, of doing life together with a sense of wellbeing!
Sometimes seeking help from a professional can be really beneficial. Research shows that family counselling is one of the most effective forms of therapy available! If you look after your family relationships evidence shows that there are other benefits, like an improved sense of wellbeing and psychological resilience!
There are many forms of families including the traditional mum, dad and the kids. These include:
- Blended family
- Extended family
- Families together by blood, marriage and defacto relationships
- Foster and adoptive families
- Same-sex parented families
- Separated parent family
- Single parent family
- Step family
No matter what your family looks like, family counselling can help you to sort things out and work out improved ways of doing life together.
Common family issues
It’s impossible to predict what life might throw at you, but there are some life events that often prompt families to seek some help.
- Emotional and behavioural issues
- Family conflict
- Family violence
- Drug and alcohol use
- Death of a family member
- Relationship breakdowns
- Separation and divorce
- Traumatic experiences
- Unexpected pregnancy
Families often feel stuck. Angry. Distressed. Overwhelmed. And generally haven’t been able to work out a way to make changes that work for them.
Whatever the issues your family is facing, counselling can be beneficial.
What happens in family counselling?
Two or more family members usually come for counselling, depending on what the issues are. Sometimes other members may also join if it becomes evident that this might be helpful. It’s different for every family, so you can decide what might work best for your situation.
Overall the purpose of family counselling is enable the family to sort out whatever it is that has prompted the counselling. Often there is pain and misunderstanding causing conflict within the family, and existing patterns of behaviour and interaction are not working well.
Every family is different but here are some of the common things to expect:
- Exploration of the key issues and how each person in the family perceives them.
- Opportunity for each person to be heard to achieve mutual understanding.
- Helping each person to take responsibility for their own actions and responses within the family.
- Clarity about goals and hoped for outcomes.
- A focus on effective conflict resolution strategies.
- Thinking about communication patterns and unhelpful and helpful ways of being together.
Heather enjoys working with families and being part of the change process as challenges are addressed, creative ways are explored to enhance wellbeing, changes implemented and helpful solutions are discovered!
Call Heather Thompson to make an appointment……
Family Violence is one of the biggest issues facing Australian families. Any family can be impacted. If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence there is help available.
What will everyone say? What will my friends or family think of me? Perhaps I’m overreacting? These are common responses from people who are experiencing family violence. However, it is not OK for you or anyone to be treated violently, either verbally or physically.
Perhaps you are the one abusing your partner or children. Help is available, and taking the first step of acknowledging what’s going on could be the best decision you ever make.
So, what are we talking about here?
Family violence is conduct that is violent, threatening, coercive, controlling or intended to cause the family or household member to be fearful. It can include physical, verbal, emotional, sexual or psychological neglect.(www.humanservices.gov.au 2016)
Family violence can occur with your partner or ex-partner, with your children or with other members of your family.
It occurs in all socio-economic groups and in all religious and cultural groups.
Perpetrators of family violence violate the rights and well-being of their victims. They use power and control in a variety of ways including:
- The use of intimidation
- The use of isolation
- Use of emotional abuse
- Using economic abuse
- Using male privilege
- Using coercion and threats
- Using children
- Minimising denying and blaming
One of the main benefits of counselling for people who have experienced family violence is to be heard, and for someone else to say “what you’re experiencing is not OK.” To be validated is an important part of being able to take back control and to consider what life might be like without the violence.
For those who use violence within relationships, counselling can help to consider what you might do differently to manage conflict more appropriately, to avoid harm and improve connectedness. Learning to address strong emotional responses like anger and frustration and to take responsibility for your own behaviour in appropriate ways is necessary for change to occur. Anger management counselling can be a helpful approach to enable you to change your behaviour.
In counselling, you can be encouraged to speak about your experience within the context of your relationships and consider options about what you can do about it.
Heather has broad experience working with people impacted by family violence. She understands how difficult it often is to seek assistance, and assures a confidential, safe and anonymous environment for people who wish to engage in counselling.
Heather has experience working with both partners involved in family violence and recognises the complexity of issues that present in families.
Call Heather Thompson to make an appointment.
If you are being threatened or you are fearful for yourself, a child or a family member call 000
If you need to talk to someone immediately call Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre: 24 hour response line 1800 015 188
Counselling can help individuals, partners or families navigate through the complexities of relationships and provide opportunity to explore new and more satisfying ways of interacting with others.
We all have many different relationships in our lives. Partners, families, kids, work colleagues, footy coaches, neighbours…the list goes on! When things are going well it’s great, but often these relationships become difficult and can cause a lot of anxiety and problems. Seeking some assistance from someone with the skills and knowledge to help you better manage these issues is a great idea, and relationship counselling can make a huge difference to your wellbeing and life satisfaction.
Relationship counselling can help you sort out what’s going wrong in your relationships. Looking at communication patterns and how you manage conflict and difference is a key to understanding the situation you are in. We all have a past, and understanding the impact of what’s gone on in our lives before can be so helpful in working out what we might do differently to bring some change. Becoming responsible for your own part in a relationship is important as this enables you to then choose how you might do things differently. If you keep doing the same things you will probably get the same result, so doing things differently broadens the possibilities for change!
Would you like to be able to have a more satisfying and happy relationship with your partner? Emotionally and sexually? What would it be like to feel loved and accepted for who you are rather than experience ongoing conflict or disconnection? Do you wonder how things have changed and now you are questioning whether you want to still be in the relationship?
There are a range of common relationship issues:
- Communication issues
- Loss of intimacy
- Loss of trust
- Loss of honesty
- Managing conflict
- Sexual problems
- Abusive behaviour
- Problems with extended families
- Blended families
- Impact of medical or mental health issues
These are all common challenges for partners experiencing difficulty in their relationships and can be addressed in counselling. Research shows that counselling works in 70% – 80% of cases. It can help you reconnect with your partner and restore intimacy and closeness.
Sometimes couples need help working out what to do about their relationship, whether moving on from a particular relationship or calling it a day is the best option, or whether there is some hope that things could change enough for the relationship to continue. Counselling can help whatever the challenges are, as long as you are willing to think about the relationship and what’s happening between the two of you.
Alone or together?
There are options for how you address issues in your relationship. It works best when both of you seek counselling because this provides the opportunity for you to consider what is happening between you, as well as what each person is experiencing. Exploring the best ways of managing your feelings, thoughts and behaviours becomes the focus for counselling.
Couple counselling often involves a combination of joint and individual sessions. This flexibility allows for the unique needs of the couple. An assessment of communication styles and behaviour patterns, presenting issues and desired outcomes individually and together, enables a treatment process to be planned that best suits the couple.
Sometimes just one person of the partnership wants to seek some help even when the other is not willing. This is the case with about half the number of people who seek couple counselling. This doesn’t mean that one person is the problem, because a relationship is about what happens between two people! However, this can still be beneficial and make a huge difference to the relationship. When one person changes the relationship changes! The other person will need to adjust to new ways of doing things. There is a high probability that positive change in the behaviour of the other partner is likely if positive change has occurred in the one seeking assistance.
The circumstances surrounding the confirmation of a pregnancy will impact the emotional response of all involved. A pregnancy can result in elation and great excitement. Or it may be a feared outcome. Sometimes it results in unexpected emotional responses such as guilt, anxiety, fear or trepidation. Sometimes such emotional responses come in waves and thinking about it is difficult.
Every pregnancy is different.
The impact of the pregnancy on other relationships, work, finances and other practical issues may cause great distress. Sometimes parents may have very different ideas and attitudes to the pregnancy and this can result in difficulties. Family and friends may have responses that complicate the situation, and cause distress. Sometimes the issues about the pregnancy can be overwhelming and there are more questions than answers.
Often the pregnancy may not proceed as expected. Things may not go well. The viability of the pregnancy may be in jeopardy. Testing may identify health issues for the baby. The health of the mother may be impacted. For many pregnancies miscarriage may occur. Having to make vital decisions can be overwhelming. These challenges may result in stress and anxiety and other emotions such as grief, despair, fear or concern.
When we add hormones to the mix it is easy to understand the fluctuating moods and emotional impact of pregnancy.
Seeking assistance to help sort through your concerns, conflicting thoughts and emotional responses can be beneficial. Counselling with someone who can help you do this can help you sort through your feelings and help you plan a way ahead.
Heather Thompson is registered with Medicare to provide non-directive pregnancy support counselling services. Medicare rebates are available for up to 3 sessions per patient per pregnancy. For more information please click here
This service involves the counsellor undertaking a safe confidential space that helps the person explore concerns they have about a pregnancy. This includes providing unbiased, evidence-based information about all the options and service available where requested.
Discuss your eligibility for this service with your GP.
Having a baby is an emotionally charged experience as well as being an intensely challenging physical experience. It’s quite normal to experience the baby blues after giving birth! Up to 80% of new mums experience post-partum depression. Often feelings of depression start within a few days of delivery and generally resolve within a few weeks.
However, for up to 15% of women symptoms persist and can last for a month or years if left untreated.
Common Symptoms of Post-Partum Depression
- Depressed mood or severe mood swings
- Excessive crying
- Difficulty bonding with your baby
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of appetite or eating more than usual
- Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
- Difficulty concentrating
- Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
- Reduced interest in pleasurable activities
- Feeling that you are not a good mother
- Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt and inadequacy
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Feeling numb and overwhelmed
- Thinking about harming yourself or your baby
Treatment for Post-Partum Depression
Women often feel ashamed or embarrassed by their symptoms especially as there is a common belief that having a new baby is a happy time in your life! Yet Post-Partum Depression can be successfully treated, and seeking professional help from a skilled counsellor is a very helpful thing you can do for yourself, your baby, and family.
When to Seek Help
- If your symptoms don’t subside within two weeks
- If your symptoms are getting worse
- If you are finding it difficult to care for your baby
- If you are unable to complete everyday tasks
- If you are having thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
If you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby,
- Seek immediate assistance from your partner, family or friends.
- Call 000 for immediate assistance
- Call Lifeline 13 11 14
- Call Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
For more information on Family and relationship counselling or to make an appointment contact Heather.