It is rightly said that 'my paradise is where my family lives." Family is such a blessing that after all the day's long effort and struggle, people find that their energy is regained when they meet the family at night. In societies where the family bonds are tighter, the psychological problems are low. Even the families not living idealistically happily are better than those living alone. However, it has been a desire of people to make their family bonds stronger and to be able to share and love more. Family counseling or family therapy is an effort to erase the tensions between family members and to help them grow their family bond stronger. Many family approaches are presented and applied after research and observation. These family counseling approaches develop understanding among family members particularly spouses so that they can handle stress and strain of family life better. Family counseling approaches guide how to get as well as give support, praise and love and to eliminate the feeling of isolation (Family and Marriage Counseling, 2012). Family counseling can be particularly helpful while forming families i.e. marriage. Hence it is suggested to understand as well as apply the family counseling techniques in the personal lives to improve the quality of family life and understanding. The family counseling topics can cover issues like behavior while unemployment, eating disorder, sleep patterns, spending habits etc. (What is family counseling for? n.d).
The family counseling can be conducted using structural family therapy. This approach helps treat a family's problems using systems theory developed by Salvador Minuchin after his decades of research. The theory focuses on step-by-step change which is the basic aim of counseling. The counselor is the agent of change who evaluates the performance of family members over time and decided different intervention activities (Epstein, Baldwin, & Bishop, 1983).
The structural approach to family counseling became a necessity as the family members started to spend their majority time out and had less time to understand each other. In 1960's, Salvador Minuchin was conducting experiments on the families from the newly established state Israel. It is found that the environment of people and families have a strong impact on how they behave and interact inside home (McMahon, Patton, & Watson, 2004). It was observed that changing the culture and environment of Jew kids had great impact on their behavior. The approach is based on the idea that a person can improve the quality of family life by adopting different perspectives. Hence it is vital to work on the family perspective and life perspective of people. Minuchin found and established in "Structural Family Therapy" that the transitional event is very important and it helps families enter new stage of life that can be used for good. The change can be inculcated for conflict identification as well as resolution (Bertalanffy, 1972).
The structural approach of family counseling or therapy deals with the way family, problem and change process are interrelated and can be used. The three segments of this approach can be separately studied to find what they are and how they can play role in making family lives happier.
Family is still considered the basic unit of society. It is an institution composed of family members that are unique yet interdependent functionally. A family has culture, norms and rules of its own. There are routines for sleep, appetite and work. The family is vulnerable to the external environment that is not only source of jobs, work and study but also learning and socialization (McMahon, Patton, & Watson, 2004). The family often re-accomodates and adopts various living systems that satisfy the developmental needs. Major events affecting families can be marriage, pregnancy, birth, job, promotion, firing, retirement, migration, divorce etc. The counselor studies the problems of the families and the time these problems arrived so that the specific nature of problem can be understood that helps understanding families. Some problems do and other don't involve children that changer the counseling goals and strategies.
Understanding how the families were before the conflict is very important. It tells about the potential rate of progress. Very happy and satisfied families and couples before the conflict can achieve the happier state once again relatively more easily. It is necessary to understand the point at which the family achieves homeostasis. Every family needs a different level of change, balance and homeostasis which should be clear in the mind of counselor. The counselor should try that the families should only adopt change process that is necessary and should avoid change for the sake of change (Liddle, & Halpin, 1978).
Many a time's families have problems that grow to a size where they are hard to solve. At these times, an external help is needed. The counselor who is using structural family therapy understands the nature and intensity of the problem behavior and finds how it will affect the family relationships in future (Finding a Therapist Who Can Help You Heal, 2013). The counselor must know the level and role of the conflict or problem and the source and target of it. A wife may be doing a night job for example hence she might be the source of problem, incomfort, for the affectees (husband and the children). The counselor gets the opinion of source as well as affectees on the issue separately as well as in group (Epstein, Baldwin, & Bishop, 1983).
The family counselor knows that the presented problems might not always be the actual problem. He should therefore dig the roots of the problem. Sometimes the family members complain about some behavior but they are actually irritated by another behavior. It is hard to directly point out the main issue (MacDougall, 2002). So often it is the job of counselor to tell 'right problem' from the 'wrong problem'.
The problems in the families that are not easily solved indicate family struc-ture dysfunctions. This requires changing the model or the structure on which the family works. This change process supports the members of family to come out of the stere-otypical family roles and to be more understanding. It teaches that more emphasis should be put on family well-being not to accommodate with the so called social compliance rules. The structure and change process tells that there should be limit to following the norms of society and the members should spend more time together than on the low productive tasks. The family behaviors tell about its priorities, perceptions, attitudes, af-finities, and expectations that play a vital role in bringing the change. The family's change only when they are isolated from the normal and routine practices and are helped realize the need for change to attain a better and happier family stage.
The structural approach offers consistent method of thoughtful problem solving through counseling. It helps understand each family member individually and family as a whole. The approach is applicable to families that are in need of change. There are family issues that cannot be solved without changing family structure and dynamics. These problems if solved superficially reoccur sooner or later at some time in future.
The approach is normally considered more applicable when the family enters the stage where they have kids and a son or daughter causes problems for the family. In such cases, the role of parents is more vital since their behavior affects their as well as children's lives. The child therapy involves parent counseling as well. Most of children's problems and lack of confidence is found to be due to conflict among parents. The structural approach needs the parents and the other family members to be motivated and committed to solve family issues. The parents should be more patient and understanding if the family issue is the wrong company of child, drug abuse, mental retardation, early age sexual activity or en-copresis. The counselor needs to tell the families that these issues are critical yet can be solved in collaboration (Ma, 1997).
Main objective of structural family counseling is to restructure system of the family rules and to break the counterproductive stereotypes. The role of structured counseling approach is to release parents and children from the stereotyped roles and functions in the family that helps families activate its potential resources for improving its capacity to deal with pressure and conflict. The family is encouraged to develop new and effective roles and to set family goals. It also helps families achieve independence in nourishing changes even after the counselor has done his job (Czaja, Eisdorfer, & Schulz, 2006).
It should be noted that the family goals are not as objective or ambitious as are the work goals. However, the family goals are more compassionately designed. These goals are supported by heartily made efforts and sincerity. The counselor facilitates the family structuralize and he is like a midwife supporting the wife during the critical time of delivery. The job of counselor ends after giving birth to the change. It is role and responsibility of the counselor to end the…