Counseling for Parents & How It Could Benefit Your Family

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Medically reviewed by Neal Swartz

a man and woman playing with a child in a field after having Counseling for parents at REACH Ohio

Being a parent is one of life’s most rewarding experiences, but there’s no denying that it also comes with many challenges and can often feel overwhelming.

It’s often said and very true: there’s no instruction manual for being a parent. It’s also important to remember that everyone’s parenting journey is different. 

And this is why the availability of therapy or counseling for parents is so important. 

As a parent, you’re not only responsible for tending to your child’s daily needs; you’re also responsible for ensuring they develop vital life skills, for nurturing their growth, providing guidance, affection, discipline, support, love, and much more. And all of this needs to be balanced with your own needs, and juggled alongside your own life challenges. 

It’s no surprise then that most parents feel overwhelmed at times, and even more so if there are other challenging situations at play within the family dynamic. And this is where counseling for parents can make a significant difference. 

At Reach Behavioral Health in Cleveland, Ohio, we offer a range of therapeutic services that are designed to support parents. Contact us to find out the different ways we could help you and your family, or keep reading to learn more about how therapy can help with parenting.

Understanding counseling for parents

Receiving therapy or counseling as a parent can help you address and manage a wide variety of challenges you might be facing within your family. 

There are several forms of therapy that can benefit parents; it doesn’t necessarily need to be labeled as “counseling (or therapy) for parents.” Individual counseling, couples therapy, or family therapy are all suitable forms of helping parents navigate the challenges they face, and the exact approach you choose can be tailored to meet your unique needs.

Parental counseling essentially involves getting professional guidance and support to help you address and manage both specific and non-specific challenges you might be facing with your child or within the family as a whole. 

It’s a judgment-free zone where you can discuss all your problems and concerns as a parent, and gain knowledge, tools, guidance, and support. Your therapist will help you gain a greater understanding of both you and your child, and develop effective strategies to handle certain issues, improve communication, and ultimately ensure you’re best placed to foster a healthy family dynamic. 

Common challenges in parenting

Parenting comes with numerous challenges that can impact your own mental health as well as the harmony of your family. 

Parents often focus on their children’s needs and forget to consider their own. But it’s equally important to be aware of and look after your own mental health as a parent, as your emotions and behavior will have a direct link to the rest of your family’s well-being. 

Acknowledging the challenges you are facing, and knowing that you are far from alone and that help is available, is one of the best things you can do for your family.

Some of the most common challenges that parents face include: 

  • Behavioral problems: Dealing with children’s tantrums, defiance, or other behavioral issues.
  • Communication barriers: Struggling to effectively communicate with your children or partner.
  • Life stressors: Managing or overcoming stress and anxiety from factors such as work, financial difficulties, childcare arrangements, marital problems, lack of sleep, and much more.
  • Discipline strategies: Finding appropriate and effective ways to discipline your children.
  • Emotional struggles: Managing your own emotions, balancing your family’s needs with your own, and maintaining adult relationships and personal time.
  • Physical and/or mental health concerns: Dealing with your child’s, your partner’s, or your own mental or physical health issues.

Who can benefit from parent counseling?

The truth is that every parent can benefit from parental therapy or counseling. You don’t necessarily need to be experiencing a specific challenge. 

However, parental therapy can be particularly beneficial for any parent or parents who are:

  • Dealing with specific issues with their child 
  • Experiencing marital or relationship problems
  • Going through divorce or separation, or struggling to adjust afterwards
  • Suffering from their own health problems, whether mental health or physical
  • Dealing with loss or grief
  • Suffering from substance abuse problems 
  • Experiencing abuse or violence 
  • A survivor of past abuse or trauma 

Essentially, whether you’re dealing with specific behavioral issues with your children, struggling with communication or other issues within your family, or simply seeking guidance on effective parenting strategies, counseling and therapy can provide invaluable support.

How does therapy help with parenting?

Therapy offers a supportive and non-judgmental space where, under expert guidance, you can explore your concerns, gain insights, and develop practical solutions. 

Unfortunately, parents often feel that seeking parental therapy means they are failing in some way, but it’s the exact opposite. 

Therapy and counseling provide a necessary support system. It offers an unbiased (expert and knowledgable) outsider’s perspective, teaches you important strategies, enables you to reevaluate your beliefs and expectations, and removes the pressure of thinking “perfect parenting” exists. 

Here are some specific ways therapy can help with parenting:

  • Identify your parenting style: Understand the pros and cons of your inherent parenting style, how it influences your relationship with your child, and learn strategies to maximize the pros and minimize the cons.
  • Investigate your family dynamics: Explore how your unique family dynamic (e.g. single parent, blended families, etc.) may be impacting your role as a parent. 
  • Address unresolved issues: You may have unresolved issues from past experiences that are impacting how you parent, which therapy can help you identify and address.
  • Learn more about your child: Therapists can help identify problems a child may not yet be able to express or understand, can share important knowledge on where your child is developmentally and how that might relate to their behavior or other conflicts, help you better understand their needs, and teach you strategies to support them.
  • Improve communication: Therapists can teach you techniques to improve your communication, express your thoughts and feelings more clearly and effectively, learn how to manage conflict and have productive and supportive conversations, and more, all of which can lead to better relationships with your children and partner.
  • Develop coping strategies: Therapy can help you develop coping mechanisms to manage stress and anxiety, enabling you to remain calm and composed in challenging situations.
  • Learn effective discipline techniques: Counselors can guide you on positive discipline strategies that promote good behavior without harming your child’s self-esteem.
  • Strengthen parental relationships: Therapy can strengthen your relationship with your partner by addressing conflicts and improving teamwork in parenting.

Techniques and types of counseling for parents

As already mentioned, parental therapy or counseling can encompass various forms, which all fall under the main types of psychotherapy and counseling available. 

If you are a parent, all forms of therapy will always naturally touch on your role and experiences as a parent as part of your therapeutic journey. But if you are specifically seeking parental therapy, the focus will simply be more directed towards you as a parent: 

  • Individual therapy: Explore your own beliefs, past experiences, thoughts, and behaviors, and how they may be impacting your parenting and family dynamics.
  • Couples therapy: Address parental beliefs, behaviors, and interactions as a unit to improve your co-parenting style and techniques, and improve your family harmony.
  • Family therapy: Engage the entire family to identify and address challenges, interaction patterns, and to strengthen relationships.

The exact techniques your therapist employs will depend on your individual situation, but will typically include those such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), talk therapy, role-play, and communication exercises tailored to addressing specific parenting challenges.

Therapy for children and teenagers

It’s usually beneficial, or sometimes even necessary, for your child or teen to also undergo their own separate form of therapy. 

Therapy for children or teenagers gives them a safe, supportive, and consistent outlet, in the presence of a compassionate adult who is trained in developmentally appropriate therapy techniques, to help them process their emotions, understand their behaviors, and develop tools and coping mechanisms to tackle the wide range of challenges and emotions they are experiencing. 

Equally, if your child’s behavioral problems are linked to a mental health disorder or learning difficulties, it can also be extremely beneficial to explore alternative education options. Our sister organization, Education Alternatives (EA Schools) in Ohio, has a wide range of programs designed to support children and adolescents who face challenges thriving in conventional school settings due to behavioral, attention, and emotional issues, including those on the autism spectrum. 

As a parent, your involvement in your child’s therapy is essential, and having therapy of your own alongside the support they are receiving can enhance the benefits for your entire family significantly. 

Getting started with counseling for parents

As a parent, seeking therapy or counseling can be a transformative experience, for you and your entire family. 

If you are an Ohio resident and are interested in starting a therapeutic journey as a parent, contact us at Reach Behavioral Health to schedule a free consultation and find out the different ways that we can help you. 

We are dedicated to empowering parents and families through our comprehensive array of therapeutic services, which we offer both in-person and remotely via teletherapy

By seeking help, you are taking a proactive step towards creating a healthier, happier family environment. Let us help you on your journey.

Contact us