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Family life counseling is a term that can be used to describe different types of family-oriented counseling. In some cases, this type of counseling may address general family dynamic issues, or it may provide assistance in coping with more complicated issues such as substance abuse, divorce, or specific transition issues for military families or families coping with a serious illness. Providers of family life counseling may be licensed professional counselors, clinical social workers, or psychologists. Clergy members or those with specialized certification in substance abuse counseling may also offer family therapy services. Some counseling centers may use the phrase family life counseling in their literature, but may also offer additional types of counseling, including couples counseling or individual counseling.
Many families struggle with problems that individual family members are having or negative family relationships. In order to restore a healthy family life, they may choose to work with a family life counselor who can help them identify and address those issues that contribute to family stress. In many cases, the whole family may participate in counseling sessions though individual family members may also speak with a counselor either by themselves or with one or two other people. As the counselor gets to know the family and understand its issues, the counselor can make recommendations for either improving family communications or taking other steps to address serious issues such as substance abuse or domestic violence. In some cases, a family may seek counseling during a divorce so as to help all the family members make the painful transition to separate households.
Some families may have special needs that mandate specialized types of family life counseling. For example, some military personnel have difficulty transitioning to civilian life after they return home from active duty. The military may provide family life counseling to those who request it in order to help families through this adjustment period. This type of family life counseling may require the services of someone with specific experience and skill in treating families with special needs.
Sources of family life counseling include community counseling centers, private psychotherapeutic practices, and counseling centers that serve military bases and schools. Churches and religious organizations may also provide family counseling services. Many communities subsidize the cost of family life counseling for residents who lived on low or limited incomes. Some health insurance companies also cover the cost of this type of therapy.