We are fortunate to live in a day and age where family counseling does not have the same stigma as it once did.
It’s now possible to see a family counselor for a wide variety of different issues, from conflict resolution to parenting difficulties, and from spiritual challenges to step-family issues. We even have the option to see a counselor virtually using a computer, phone, or tablet, as well as in-person in a traditional office setting.
In this guide, we’ve explained how to find the right counselor for you and your family.
Family counseling near me and online
Note: we may receive compensation if you become a paying customer of a therapy service we link to.
Below, we’ve looked at two places that can connect you with a licensed, qualified family counselor. We will look at how to use each resource, its pros and cons, and the costs involved.
ReGain is an online counseling platform that focuses specifically on relationship counseling. To use this platform for family therapy, choose couples counseling when signing up, and then you will be prompted to provide demographic information about you and your family, such as your age, gender, sexual orientation, relationship status, children, and goals from counseling. Then you will be asked about your preferences in a therapist, such as their gender and religion.
At this stage, you’ll be matched with a licensed family counselor, based on your preferences and needs, with at least three years or 1000 hours of experience in providing relationship counseling. If the counselor you are matched with is not the right fit for your family, then ReGain makes it simple to change. You can request to switch therapists at any time, and you’ll be provided another match with no hassle.
One of the main benefits of using ReGain is that you have the ability to choose the therapy setting. You can get help from the comfort of your own home, over a video call or phone call. Online therapy also allows you to schedule a time that is convenient for your entire family. Potentially, you could be matched with a therapist outside of your time zone that is able to accommodate your schedule – you can get help after work/school hours, if desired.
During the sign-up process, you are asked for your location, and a general description of your financial situation. Based on this information, you are provided a weekly rate that is billed every four weeks until you decide to end your subscription. This subscription includes a weekly therapy session, as well as the ability to message your counselor in between sessions, to get help sooner, should you need it.
If you’re on a low income, or are facing unexpectedly high bills at the moment, ReGain will offer you access to their financial aid program. If you are eligible for financial support, you will pay a much lower price per month to use the service.
However, it’s also important to note the downside to online family therapy. Because you won’t be face-to-face, your counselor may not be able to observe much of the nonverbal communication of your family. Also, participating in online therapy may be a challenge if there are many distractions in your surroundings – whereas in an office setting, your family may be more easily engaged by the therapist.
This website is an online directory for family and relationship therapists. Simply enter your state and city, and Family Marriage Counseling will provide a list of family counselors available near you.
Many therapists on this website list their specific areas of expertise, and some provide their website for you to get to know them a bit better. For some counselors though, you must contact them directly via phone or email to learn more about them and their services.
One of the benefits of in-person therapy is having a neutral setting. Sometimes being in a space outside of your home feels better, especially if there are negative emotions attached to your home environment for some family members. Also, as noted above, the therapist is able to observe your nonverbal communication better when you see them in-person.
Also, your therapist may be able to perform some interactive exercises more easily because they can more easily supply materials or provide a hands-on approach, rather than relying on you to have materials or understand instructions over a video call.
The biggest downside to in-person family therapy of course is the scheduling. You will have to take into account the therapist’s office hours, your family’s schedule, and travel time to and from the therapy session when booking your appointments. Depending on when you live this can be a big challenge, especially if those attending therapy have busy schedules.
Regarding the cost of family counseling, you might find that visiting a counselor in person is actually more expensive than seeing a counselor online. Typically, family counseling is not covered by most insurance companies, because you normally need to be diagnosed with a mental health condition for insurance to cover the cost of treatment. Also, in-person counselors often charge more when more than one person attends, but online services like ReGain charge a flat fee, no matter how many family members attend counseling.
Why start family counseling
The main reason families attend counseling together is to improve their interpersonal relationships. The breakdown of relationships can happen for a number of different reasons, such as:
- Parenting style conflicts
- Substance abuse
- Coping with divorce
- Difficulty overcoming grief
- Major life event (birth, moving, empty nest)
- Health crisis
- Disagreements with kids as they grow older
- Abuse such as violence in the home or sexual abuse
There are other times when a family is not in a crisis so to speak, but there does seem to be a breakdown in communication. This can look like:
- One or more people isolating themselves and declining to participate in family activities
- A family member defying household rules and norms
- Arguing that ranges from daily bickering to full-on shouting matches
- Parents unsure about how to discuss sensitive issues such as sex, gender identity, social media, race, politics, religion, and issues at school with their children.
- Preparing for an expected change such as a need to shift roles and responsibilities, moving somewhere new, a career change, or a child beginning to attend college.
Knowing your reason for starting counseling with your family is important, because this will help you find the right counselor for your family.
Before we discuss the common approaches to family counseling, it is important to mention some resources you can use to ensure your personal safety.
If you or a person in your family is in an unsafe situation, such as facing a threat to their person, assault of any kind, or neglect to provide basic needs including medical care, it’s important to seek immediate attention through local law enforcement or one of the following U.S national hotlines:
- Suicide prevention lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
- Substance Abuse & Mental Health Association (SAMSHA): 1-800-662-4357
- Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
What to expect from family therapy
The ultimate goal of family counseling is to help with open, safe communication, and to develop more supportive relationships within the family.
Depending on your family and counselor, the sessions may look a bit different depending on whether you decide to attend online or in-person sessions.
Here are some common approaches to family counseling:
- Supportive family therapy will focus on open and safe communication, so that the relationships within the family are more supportive
- Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy works by altering the negative thought and behavior patterns that are impacting family relationships
- Psychodynamic therapy focuses on family members gaining insight into each other’s emotional responses, in order to change how family members relate to one another
- Systemic family therapy identifies the roles of each family member in order to better understand the family dynamics
- Structural family therapy focuses on family organization and communication patterns
How family therapy works
You may have noticed that while a family’s issues may be unique, repairing family relationships often comes down to communication. A major role of a family therapist is not only as an observer and confidant, but that of a teacher as well. They teach families how to identify their emotions, and how to respectfully express them. In addition, families learn how to provide support to one another in a respectful way.
Here are some techniques that family therapists may use:
- Roleplay: in order to help family members gain perspective on communication patterns, a therapist may ask the family to change roles in a hypothetical conflict. For example, the therapist may ask a husband and wife to change roles with one another in a dispute about a parenting conflict. This gives the participants an opportunity to demonstrate how they experience the conflict. A therapist may also direct them to act in a way they wish the other would respond, as a way to express their needs. This activity can feel awkward initially, but can be very effective in opening lines of communication and demonstrating how to actively practice changing communication patterns in communication.
- Journaling: in order to teach clients about identifying their emotions and patterns of behavior, you may be asked to journal your experience of different emotions. For example, you may be asked to write about to what degree you experienced these emotions (such as anger 8 out of 10, 10 being the angriest you’ve ever felt), what you did when you were angry (shouted, slammed the door, isolated yourself), what preceded the anger (arrived home and the house was a mess even though everyone was home). Journaling is a great technique to help people better identify their emotions and have more clarity into their emotional triggers, so that they can begin to communicate their needs in a more productive manner. Doing this as a family will help you develop greater insights into your family communication patterns.
- Charting responsibilities: simply put, a therapist may assist the family with creating a chart of household responsibilities that are shared among family members. This is so that everyone understands their responsibilities and expectations of them.
- Charting behavior: this technique is often done when there is parent-child conflict. In order to encourage desirable behaviors, a therapist may ask parents to list positive behaviors that their children do and would like to increase (such as completing specific chores, helping a sibling, or resolving a conflict without yelling). The chart is used for parents to be more mindful of recognizing and reinforcing positive behavior with praise, helping with behavior modification.
- Scheduling family activities: it often happens that with the responsibilities of work, school, and maintaining a household, family bonding time is neglected. This can lead to neglected relationships and a breakdown in communication. One goal of therapy may be to set a schedule for family activities where fun is the main priority.
Depending on the ages and interests of the family members, play and art therapy may also be part of the treatment plan. These techniques are particularly good at allowing the therapist to observe nonverbal communication, and identify patterns in communication. With this information, a therapist is better equipped to coach families on improving communication in an engaging way.
Whether you are dealing with conflict about parenting styles, finding a way to support a family member, coping with divorce, experiencing a major life event, or addressing abuse in your family, with the help of a counselor, it is normally possible to have more healthy and supportive relationships with one another.
Not only is finding a family counselor near you a lot more simple today, but it’s also easier to find a therapist with the qualifications and expertise to meet your family’s unique situation. And these days, participating in family therapy can be done virtually, at a time that works for you.
Your commitment to participation, being open to listening to a new perspective, and willingness to practice new skills are important regardless of whether you choose in-person or online counseling. Remember that change can feel uncomfortable, even if it is for a good cause, but who is more deserving of you at your best than your family?
If you have more to add to the conversation, or have a question about family counseling that we haven’t covered, please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below.
About the author
I have a Master’s degree in Social Work with a focus on Clinical Practice. I also received additional training in counseling and therapy, having completed The Positive Parenting Program and a course on Trauma Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Children.
Along with my ten years of experience as a mental health clinician, I have also created a private practice combining my mental health training with mindfulness practices of meditation and yoga, to help clients address mental health and emotional distress. I am currently living in Fiji, seeing clients virtually, and freelance writing.