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Do We Need Individual, Couples or Family Therapy?

family looking at sunset

Have you made the decision to begin therapy but not sure where to start?  

Are you trying to determine if you need individual, couples or family therapy?  

It’s okay if you answered yes to one or both of these questions!  

At One Heart Counseling Center, we are here to guide you through the process of finding out what type of therapy will be most effective for you.  

The first step is the most important one and that is getting in touch with us so we can get started.  

Here are a few common questions that typically arise in the beginning.

What is the difference between individual, couples and family therapy? 

One of the obvious answers to the question ‘what is the difference between individual, couples and therapy?’ is the people who are involved.  But it goes a lot deeper than that so let’s break it down a little more.

Individual therapy is self-reflective and focuses more on personal development.  You will spend time identifying and processing your emotions and behaviors and working to make positive changes in your life.  

In couples therapy, the therapist will help you understand how you and your partner interact and determine ways to improve those interactions.  Sometimes it might be a little more intense because you are dealing with the emotions and behaviors of two different people who are usually from different backgrounds and have different coping skills.

Family counseling can include all family members in a household or just a few, depending on the situation that led to initiating therapy.  A family therapist can help resolve differences within the family, help build stronger relationships between you and help you learn how to function as a unit in a more positive way.

Once you determine which type of therapy is best for you (which we can help you with! Contact us Here), questions about the therapist may arise.

Can we all just see the same therapist? 

Having everyone in the family see the same therapist separately is usually not recommended. This is because the therapeutic relationship between a therapist and an individual is built on trust.  

A family therapist creates the alliance and trust with the family as a whole, which includes each of its members, but is focused on the family.  

In couples therapy the couple is the ‘client’ so the therapist acts in accordance with the priorities of the relationship. 

Switching to a single member of the couple or family means the working relationship starts to develop with that individual.  This can lead to problems in the working relationship with the family or the couple that interrupt the effectiveness of the work. It never seems like it will be a problem, but trust us, even if it is hard to foresee, it happens! 

Consider this… the therapist says something that challenges you in a family session.  Even if it isn’t the case, you might think the therapist is challenging you because they are biased by your family member that is seeing that therapist individually.  That interrupts the effectiveness of the work.  We know therapy is an investment and we want you to get the most out of it!  So we don’t want to create any situation that could compromise your investment.

Of course, there are always exceptions because every situation is different.  

However, moving from individual work to couples or family work is not recommended unless there is a specific clinical reason.  If it is then the transition should be processed and new expectations should be set. 

A different challenge may arise when you have multiple kids seeing a therapist and those will need to be considered as well.

Do my kids need different therapists? 

When you have more than one kid seeing a therapist it’s usually best for them to see different therapists. There are a variety of reasons for this.  

They may be concerned about what their sibling has said to the therapist or they may be worried that the therapist is sharing things about them with their sibling.  A therapist cannot share what individual clients say in sessions with other individual clients.  And a therapist explains this, however, kids sometimes have a hard time getting their head around this! 

Sibling rivalry is also very common and they may get caught up trying to win the therapist over so they are on their side and do not side with their sibling.  

If conflicts do arise the therapist may have to stop seeing one of the siblings or transfer them to someone else.  The child may not understand why that has to happen and may feel hurt by the change in treatment.

Every situation is different and there may be a time when it makes clinical sense for a therapist to see multiple siblings, but it doesn’t happen as often as you might think.

The benefit of working with the therapists at One Heart Counseling Center is that they know each other’s clinical work very well.  If one of your family members needs to see another therapist, your therapist can recommend someone who would be a good fit for them.  

The process for an additional family member starting therapy is relatively seamless.  It also makes it easy for the therapists working with your family to work together and support your family as a whole. 

Do you feel stuck because you just don’t know which type of therapy you should pursue? 

 If you are wondering which type of therapy would be right for you and your family, contact us with your questions and we will be happy to help you!  

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