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Seeking help for family problems

All families face problems at one time or another, and sometimes they may need professional help to deal with a problem. Recognizing the need for help is your first step towards a solution.

The following suggestions may help you locate counseling when you do decide to seek professional help.

First, start with people you are comfortable with. Use them as a starting point to locate the counseling you're looking for.

         ask them who they know in family counseling or mental health

         can they give names of agencies, counselors, psychologists or therapists who have experience with children, adolescents, or family issues?

         ask more than one person and pursue multiple recommendations

         ask others if they've heard of the people suggested to you.

If the problem involves your child, the school guidance counselor or psychologist can usually provide suggestions. Many social service agencies and private practice professionals provide counseling for families. Use the guidelines just listed to look into the referrals. Make sure the agency or professional you choose meets your needs.

Such programs may also offer group counseling, peer counseling and support groups. Consider all the options as you choose the right person and the setting that is right for you.

Ask about fees and rates; many counselors and programs provide services on a sliding scale based on your ability to pay. Whatever you do, don't decide against counseling because you think it's too expensive. Affordable help is usually available.

Give the counseling time to work; it isn't a short-term process. If, after a trial period, you are uncomfortable with a counselor, seek a change. Finding the right setting may take time.

What if your spouse, child or other family member doesn't want you to go? Go yourself! The counselor will help you, and your improvement may persuade others to join you. Even if they don't, you are building a support system for yourself.

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Last modified: 09/14/05