“The struggle you experience today is developing the strength you will need for tomorrow.”

FAMILY COUNSELLING

Families are intrinsically complex social units made up of unique individuals with different personalities, ideas, and preferences. The fact that families are made up of individuals means that, although there may be a strong sense of connection and love within the family, the dynamics of the family unit may not always be in-sync – and that’s okay! Family counselling offers a platform for each family member to have their voice heard, allowing the family unit to get back on the ‘same page’ and enjoy the benefits of greater synchronicity and unity.

FAMILY DYNAMICS

HEALTHY BOUNDARY-SETTING

The concept of ‘boundary-setting’ is frequently misunderstood as meaning ‘separation’ or ‘segregation’ within a family unit, however, this is not the case. Setting healthy boundaries within a family unit is, in fact, a way of showing love – especially when children are involved. Young children don’t yet have the ability to communicate like adults do, and they often rely on using actions instead of words, or just screaming loudly. This behaviour or ‘acting out’ is often the result of unclear boundaries or no boundaries at all. When boundaries are clearly set, children feel more comfortable in their routine and don’t experience the need to ‘push the boundaries’ because they know exactly what is allowed, what isn’t allowed, and why these specific boundaries have been put in place. The counselling space can be used for parents or families (when the children are old enough) to collectively decide on which boundaries best suit their family unit. 

STARTING SCHOOL

Starting school is an enormous milestone for children, and it can be just as intimidating as it is exciting – for both the parents and the child. Navigating this new stage of life can be challenging for a family unit, especially if it is the first born child and the school-going stage is totally unfamiliar territory. Having a safe space to discuss concerns and uncertainties is sometimes all that is needed to overcome the stressors associated with this stage, so that the joy of school and all that it entails can be enjoyed by the entire family. 

sleeping independently

It is perfectly normal for children to want to sleep near their parents because they want to feel safe and secure whilst they sleep. For some parents co-sleeping (having your child sleep in the bed with you) works for their routine and lifestyle – there isn’t a one-size fits all option when it comes to a child’s sleeping arrangement. However, when having a child sleep in bed with their parents begins to negatively impact the parents’ intimate relationship, or if the child becomes severely anxious at the prospect of sleeping in their own bed, it may be time to reach out for professional support in the form of family counselling.

new sibling

Being a parent can be incredibly rewarding but it isn’t without its challenges. Having one child is tough because it’s a new, unfamiliar territory, but having a second or third or fourth child comes with its own set of challenges. Adding a new member to the family is an exciting time, but it will, understandably, be an adjustment for children who are used to having their parents to themselves. This can be especially tricky for younger children who don’t have the ability to communicate their feelings about the situation and may be feel as though they’ve had no say in the matter – making them feel out of control all whilst fearing that their parents may not love them as much when the new baby arrives. Counselling offers the evolving family unit a supportive environment to navigate this big change, so that all the family members can feel secure and content within the family unit. 

moving house or relocating

Emigrating, relocating to a different province, or even moving to a house down the road is a particularly stressful time for parents, and whether it’s intended or not, children tune into their parents’ emotions and experience their parents’ stress vicariously. This stress can result in children ‘acting out’ or experiencing anxiety-like symptoms that interfere with their daily lives, and it can be terribly upsetting for parents to see their children having a hard time adjusting.  Having a safe space in the form of counselling, to discuss the family’s feelings about the changes involved in moving/relocating is a great way to get everyone through this stress-inducing time and settle into their new routine in their new home. 

Crisis and Trauma

Experiences like domestic abuse, muggings, xenophobic attacks, bullying, home invasions,  sexual assault and rape, hijackings, and other deeply traumatising events can have a profoundly negative impact on a person’s overall ability to function on a daily basis. Similarly, crises like becoming HIV-Positive, losing a child, becoming bankrupt, and being retrenched can be extremely difficult experiences to overcome without a safe space to process your feelings about what has happened. Whether the crisis/trauma has affected one person in the family or if the experience was shared, counselling can be a great place to learn how to cope with having experienced a trauma and  learn skills to navigate an ongoing crisis. Embarking on crisis and trauma counselling as a family can be especially effective because you can go through the process with the support of your family. If you are experiencing symptoms like sleeplessness, hypervigilance, irritability, irrational fear, mistrust, depressed mood, flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts after going through a trauma or a crisis, it may be a good idea to seek help in the form of counselling. 

South African Police Services – Report a Crime 

Rape Crisis – Rape, Sexual Assault, Gender-Based Violence, Domestic Abuse

Lifeline Telephonic Counselling Hotline – Depression, Anxiety, Suicide. 

South African Depression and Anxiety Group – Depression, Anxiety, Suicide.

ER 24 – Emergency Services 

Akeso – In-patient Psychiatric Care

Be the pillar in your family