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What Is Family and Marriage Counseling?

By Gregory Hanson
Updated May 17, 2024
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Family and marriage counseling services are provided by trained mental health workers and are designed to address several types of problems related to marriage and family life. Such counseling often begins before a couple chooses to marry, with premarital counseling designed to prepare a couple for the potential challenges of married life. In other cases, this type of counseling is designed to resolve specific issues that emerge from the relationships between couples or family members. In most cases, family and marriage counseling is designed to address and resolve specific issues, rather than to serve as an ongoing and open-ended process.

Pre-marriage counseling services are designed to allow couples to think about and address potential issues before they actually crop up in married life. This type of family and marriage counseling helps couples to work out tactics for managing money together, living together, and handling conflict in a responsible and constructive fashion. Such counseling often also includes preparation for having children, as the birth of children can place a great deal of stress on a marriage.

Other sorts of family and marriage counseling programs generally work to resolve specific issues that have emerged between spouses. Many different issues can cause difficulties in a marriage, ranging from loss of a job to fear of aging to infidelity or addiction. Couples therapy typically attempts to repair trust and reestablish effective lines of communication in order to allow couples to work through their difficulties in a healthy and respectful manner, but the specific therapeutic approaches employed vary depending on the types of issues confronting a particular couple.

In some other cases, family and marriage counseling focuses primarily on problems stemming from relations between parents and children, among siblings, or between parents because of the experience of parenthood. The specific issues addressed by this sort of therapy vary but may include behavioral problems, sibling rivalry, or even empty nest syndrome. Therapists employ a variety of different analytical and therapeutic techniques to address these problems.

As a general rule, family and marriage counseling services focus on the relationships between spouses or family members. This type of counseling tends to focus on producing specific solutions to specific problems in the structure of relationships rather than on issues internal to the individual family members, although some individual problems, such as substance abuse, can cause problems in larger relationship structures. The goal-oriented nature of this type of therapy means that most counseling programs take only a dozen sessions to resolve.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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