Elena Darmenko

Expat Psychotherapist

Family Counseling for Expats.
What Is a Family Therapy and How It Differs from a Marriage Counseling?

Achieving the sense of togetherness
Family Counseling is a type of psychological counseling (psychotherapy) that can help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts.

It involves not only partners, but also children and extended family members who's able and willing to participate. It's a great tool for intercultural couples when one is moving to a partner's country and facing difficulties with the new family and their traditions.

Besides improving your relationships, you can also address some specific issues, such as financial problems, conflicts between parents and children, or even the impact of a mental illness of one of the family members on the entire family. In this case you can ask for a family counseling along with other types of mental health treatment, as it will help you to understand each other better and learn how you can support other members of your family.

How I Work With Families

First, I talk to everyone in the family to help them understand what's going on. It's important to know how each person views problems, when the trouble started, and how the family has been trying to manage things so far.

Next, we'll discuss your personal treatment plan. The goal is to improve conflicts in a family, not to blame anyone for the issues.

Family counseling is often short term – usually about 12-15 sessions. However, the number of sessions you'll need will depend on your family's particular situation.

I teach my clients how to get though stressful times, how to get more familiar with the new culture and new family members and, as a result, how to create your own family culture.

During our sessions you will explore family roles and typical behavior patterns which usually become the source a conflict, and then find the ways to work through these issues. We will also discuss your family's ability to solve problems in a productive manner – who is usually playing the role of a diplomat of the family, what strategies do you use when looking for a compromise, etc.

It's important to know that the family counseling doesn't solve family conflicts automatically or make an unpleasant situation go away. But you will learn how to understand each other better, discuss problems in a healthy and non-judgmental way. You will also learn coping skills for effective management of challenging situations. And what's even most important – the family counseling helps you to identify your family's strengths and achieve the sense of togetherness.