Family counseling – What we can offer you
In our practice we offer you professional family counseling and therapy. Our trained couple and family therapists, who have many years of experience, are at your disposal in our two locations in Cologne Südstadt and Cologne-Dellbrück. When making an appointment, we respond individually to your needs: Appointments can be made in the morning, afternoon and evening, as well as on weekends. In the following we will explain in more detail in which cases family therapy is indicated and how you can imagine the course of family therapy in our practice.
What is family therapy?
In the context of family therapy, families are seen as a complex “system”. This family structure changes with the situational conditions that a family goes through in everyday life. This includes major changes such as the birth of a new sibling, a move, marital conflicts between parents, illness or the loss of a family member. It also includes upheavals such as a child starting school, difficulties in school, puberty or in the course of the process of “breaking away” from the parents or “letting go” of the children. These examples make it clear that sometimes even quite natural processes in the family development process need support.
One of the basic requirements for a harmonious family system is a respectful relationship between the parents. The parents should have similar ideas and values in the upbringing of their children or agree on a common denominator. Disagreements at this level otherwise lead to both persistent conflicts between the couple and dysfunctional coalitions between parents and child in the upbringing process.
Experience shows that particularly different views of child rearing among parents can lead to major crises in the partnership. One father reports in the consultation: “Only in exceptional cases do our discussions revolve around us as a couple, but rather about how we raise our children. It is often about whether and how much candy we give the children, how many hours of TV per day are to be represented or how the morning or evening ritual should be arranged”. In the worst case it comes to inconsistent regulations on the part of the mother and the father, from which the child suffers most in the end. The lack of orientation and clear rules often results in insecurity, confusion, frustration and an indignant “But with Daddy I’m allowed…”. The end of the song is then often a new conflict between the parents, so it may be: “You’re stabbing me in the back, just so that you’ll look good for our child!
From the perspective of Systemic Family Therapy, the blame for family unrest is never attributed to just one person in the family structure. The systemic approach basically focuses on the complex system of the family or its subsystems and the interactions between family members that take place within them. Often families enter therapy with the hypothesis that there is a “troublemaker” in the current problem situation who causes and maintains the disruption of the system. This basic conviction is fundamentally reconsidered and rejected together with the therapist. In the process of problem solving, the focus of attention is to be shifted away from a single “causer” and instead to problematic patterns of interaction and behavior within the whole family. As an analogy for the family system, the image of a Mobilé is particularly suitable. Just as the individual parts of a Mobilé are connected by threads, so are the members of a family. When one part of the Mobilé is set in motion, all other parts move accordingly. In the case of conflicts in the family context, it is therefore highly advisable to involve all family members in the process of change. How such changes can be set in motion in the therapy process is explained in more detail in the section “Techniques and Interventions in Family Therapy” below.
It should have emerged from the previous explanations that every symptom of a system is important and should be seen as an expression of the forces at work within it. Consequently, disputes and conflicts are signs of a prevailing imbalance in the system. This may cause more trouble for one member of the family than for another, so that the former may experience behavioural problems. If the “symptom carrier”, i.e. the person affected by the behavioral problems, were now to be treated “only” in individual therapy against the background of a family problem, the successes would probably not be of lasting effect. The existing dysfunctional behavioral patterns between family members would make it more difficult for an individual family member to change his or her behavior. In this case, the holistic approach of the Systemic Approach has rather proven to be promising and sustainable.
When is family therapy indicated?
Systemic Family Therapy can be the method of choice for a wide variety of problems. The common denominator is that the disorders to be treated can be traced back to relationship structures. The reason for this lies in the assumption of the systemic approach that dysfunctional relationship patterns in the family can trigger and maintain psychological symptoms in an individual family member. Originally, family therapy was developed and used to counsel families where the mental illness of a family member has a negative impact on the family climate. Over the course of the development of this approach, the method has also proven to be effective in a variety of other family issues as well as in the context of teamwork in the workplace.
Puberty – a time of conflict for the whole family
The time of puberty often puts the whole family to the test. Thus, not only does much change in the life of the adolescent, but changes affect the whole system of the family. During this significant phase of their lives, adolescents strive for autonomy and test their limits. Adolescence confronts the adolescents with the great challenge of identity development. In this case, family therapy aims to ensure that the steps towards adulthood are not made more difficult by conflicts within the family, but that they are made easier by the fact that the family is a family.