5 Key Terms Every Family Counselor Should Know

Every family counselor should know at least five key terms to make their interactions with clients more effective. Someone who wants to pursue a career as a family counselor should be familiar with key terms and know when to apply them to a situation. Consider five key terms that can prove helpful to a person working in the field of family counseling.

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1. Negative Reinforcement

This occurs when a negative response gains strength due to something being removed from a situation. This leads to a continuation of the behavior. For instance, a family counselor may talk to troubled parents with a young child who throws a tantrum when he is told to get onto the school bus in the morning. When the child throws a tantrum, his parents give in and drive him to school. So, the boy has learned that throwing a tantrum gets him out of riding the school bus. The parents’ response to their child’s behavior is creating negative reinforcement.

2. Stress Management

This is a person’s ability to cope with the daily stresses of life in a healthy way. It’s one of the five key terms most family counselors use frequently in today’s busy world. A family counselor may need to examine the way that one or more members of a family handle stress. A family may be in counseling due to the way a parent, child or sibling deals with stress. For instance, one family member may use alcohol or drugs to cope with the stresses of daily life. Another family member may verbally abuse others as a means of coping with stress. Poor stress management skills can cause problems for an entire family.

3. Relationship Problems

Relationship problems can be psychological, sexual or even emotional. Sometimes a family counselor is called upon to work with each individual member of a family and/or the entire family at one time. Relationship problems can take place between a husband and wife, parents and their children or between the siblings in a family. A family counselor must delve into these problems to find the root of them and provide family members with techniques for solving those problems. Furthermore, sometimes relationship problems can carry on through generations of a family if they are not addressed by a counselor.

4. Lifestyle Balance

This is one of the five key terms that is likely to be used a lot by a family counselor. In order to achieve lifestyle balance, people must spend an equal amount of time addressing their emotional, physical, social and mental needs. When one or more members of a family spends too much time focusing on one of these areas, it creates an imbalance. For instance, one parent may spend an inordinate amount of time exercising at the gym. This may affect his relationship with his wife and children. A family counselor can help with this situation.

5. Parenting Issues

This refers to the way parents nurture and raise their children. Parents may visit a family counselor to discuss their difference of opinion when it comes to how they should raise their children. For instance, one parent may feel that the other is not strict enough when it comes to their kids. This can cause a lot of resentment and conflict within a family. Or, one parent feels that the other coddles their children too much. A thoughtful family counselor has the ability to help parents work out these issues to the benefit of the entire family.

These are just a few words that should serve as the beginning of a continually growing list. They happen to be five key terms that a family counselor should know in order to deal with some fundamental problems found in today’s families.