In every family there are conflicts. This is perfectly normal and cannot be avoided. However, if the disputes get out of hand, so that none of the parties involved feels comfortable in the home environment anymore, family coaching can be helpful.
Especially in times of crisis, the family gains in importance. This was clearly demonstrated during the corona pandemic. However, the Potential for conflictas a survey of parents by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth shows.
What is family coaching anyway?
Family coaching can support families in overcoming crises and particular stresses. The coach offers help for self-help. It is not about prescribing solutions to the clients, but about inspiring them to find a solution that fits their family. Family coaching is a holistic concept that can focus on different areas.
An important component of the Coachings are discussions with all family members together as well as with individual participants, if this appears to the coach to be meaningful and necessary. This is the case, for example, if individual family members feel inhibited to speak openly in the presence of the others. Special (trust) exercises can also be part of the coaching.
The most common reasons for which a family coach is consulted are as follows:
Disagreement on educational issues
difficult phases of development of children
Dealing with external pressure (school, grandparents, etc.)
What are the goals of family coaching?
A family is a living, changing system. It is therefore of little use to identify and eliminate a single disruptive factor. Rather, in systemic family coaching, it is important to recognize and question networks of relationships and entrenched patterns of behavior. The family must learn to recognize its own group dynamics: Why do we act the way we do?
If the analysis is successful, the family works with the support of its coach to dissolve destructive behaviors and formulate new rules for living together. Entrenched role models are also redefined if necessary. The needs of the other family members are addressed and an attempt is made to find a common harmonious basis.
A coach only gives impulses
At this point it is important to mention again that the coach only gives impulses, but does not prescribe anything. Only if the family finds its own way, it can use the uncovered resources in the next crisis!
At the end of a successful family coaching session, the following goals may be achieved, depending on the personal issues involved:
How can you tell if family coaching is right for you?
Basically, it can never be a wrong decision to invest in important areas of life to be coached. In the case of family coaching, there is the additional feature that, ideally, the entire family should be ready to engage in the coaching. If this is not the case (at first), this makes the coaching process more difficult, but by no means makes it impossible.
The reasons why you want professional support can be manifold. We have already mentioned the most common examples. Mostly, the wish comes from the parents. But also older children / teenagers sometimes give the impulse for a family coaching.
Family coaching can help you to cope with numerous conflicts of family life. There is practically no unsuitable issue. However, if the problem has a serious psychological cause (e.g. trauma of the parents, mental illness of the child), then the family coach is not the right person. In this case, psychotherapy is recommended.
How to find a good family coach?
"Coach" is not a protected professional title. For this reason, there are unfortunately many black sheep on the market. Unfortunately, this cannot always be recognized at first glance. Nevertheless, there are some tips and indications that you should pay attention to.
First of all, don't be shy to ask about your family coach's experience and credentials: Has he/she completed certified training or has a professional background as a therapist? How long has he / she been practicing? Is there an opportunity to exchange ideas with other (former) clients?
Furthermore, a reputable family coach will transparently inform his clients about the pricing. The introductory meeting is usually free of charge. If the coach avoids the question of costs, this is not a good sign. Bad surprises can threaten here!
Ultimately, your gut feeling is also decisive as far as a "good" family coach is concerned. The most popular coach with the best references will not be able to help you if you do not harmonize interpersonally. For this reason, a (free) meeting to get to know each other is so important and should be offered by every serious coach. Coach are offered.
What are the methods in family coaching?
No two family coaching sessions are alike: Just as each family is individual, each coach has his or her own methods. Particularly common, however, are the circular questions as well as reframing are used.
In circular questions, also known as triadic questions, a fact is asked by a third person: person A asks person B why he or she believes that person C behaves in a certain way. In a classic question, person B would ask person C directly. The technique of circular questioning brings out new perspectives that would otherwise remain hidden.
Reframing means something like "reinterpretation". As the name suggests, the goal of this method is to look at facts from a new perspective. Simply put: to reinterpret them. You think that person A is angry with you. But what could be the reason for their reaction instead? This is how reframing works - described in the short form, of course.
Both the circular questions and reframing are best suited for leaving your own entrenched perspective and working out new conflict resolution options. Which method you can work with better is individual.
Family constellation and the view from outside
Another popular method in family coaching is the family constellation. This can either be represented by drawings or in presence. For this purpose, all family members position themselves in the room and assume the closeness / distance they feel for each other. With the help of this spatial visualization it is possible to recognize blockages and uncover destructive alliances.
An external view can also be very helpful. For this purpose, the coach films the session, provided that all participants agree to this. Often the individual family members are not even aware of how they speak and gesticulate with each other. Seeing this for once can trigger elementary rethinking processes.
How does family coaching work?
Family coaching can classically be divided into three phases:
1. the introductory or getting-to-know phase
During the getting-to-know-you phase, the coach and the family get to know each other. For the family coaching to be successful, it is of great importance that the chemistry is right. Together, we discuss what the family expects from the coaching and what the collaboration will look like in detail. The issues that led to the consultation are outlined. It is also already possible to define a goal.
Ideally, all family members participate in coaching voluntarily. Nevertheless, in practice it happens again and again that individual participants refuse or do not take the coaching seriously. In this case, the rest of the family must find a way to deal with the refusal (coercion is useless!) and still reach a constructive end result.
2. the work phase
In the second phase, things get serious: Together with the family coach, structures and relationship patterns within the family are analyzed step by step. It often turns out that the conflicts addressed in the getting-to-know-you phase are only the tip of the iceberg. Most of the time, the real problems are hidden somewhere else than the people involved assume.
The family coach supports the family seeking advice in adopting new perspectives and understanding one another. In this context, it is important to understand that there is no absolute truth. Each family member feels the conflicts subjectively differently. To say who is right or wrong is neither possible nor purposeful.
During the second coaching phase, destructive behavior patterns are broken and new communication possibilities are explored. The coach encourages the family to focus on their intuition to trust and try out different new ways.
3. the conclusion or reflection phase
In the final coaching phase, we reflect together on what we have achieved: Which goals were we able to achieve? What is still lacking? What resources have we developed in order to face future crises as a family? Together with the family coach, the family sets further development goals for the future.
What is the difference between family coaching and psychotherapy?
Coaching can never replace psychotherapy. This also applies to family coaching. Coaching offers are basically aimed at psychologically healthy people who wish to improve their quality of life and work on their own personality. If mental illnesses are present, the psychotherapist is basically the right contact person.
Nevertheless, it can be said that the methods of a coach and a psychotherapist are not so different from each other. Psychotherapists, however, require different expertise and training (usually a degree in psychology). They are able to recognize and treat complex disorders. Coaches are not responsible for this.
Become a family coach: How does the training work?
As previously explained, a family coach is not a protected job title. Theoretically, you could call yourself one from now on and receive clients. However, we recommend this approach not. At least not if you really want to help other people.
In the meantime, various courses and coaching trainings exist in the field of family coaching. It is worth taking a close look here: What training content is taught? How long does the training last? Does the course end with a final exam and/or do you receive a certificate? What opportunities are available to you afterwards?
Contents of the family coach training
Although training content may vary from provider to provider, the following topics are almost always represented:
Just like when looking for a family coach, there are a few things to consider when looking for an appropriate training program. First of all, you must be aware that such training always involves a certain financial outlay. However, do not make the mistake of making the price your only criterion! Instead, pay attention to the quality of the training.
Check with several providers and have them send you the relevant information material. Sometimes there is also the possibility of a free trial month or a free module.
In addition to the technical content, your personal preferences also play a role. For example, there are online or classroom courses. The duration can also vary. On average, training to become a family coach takes about six months. However, there are also courses that can be completed in a weekend or that extend over 18 months.
Tip: Another useful option is to first complete basic training as a coach and then train further to become a family coach. This way, you are already familiar with the most important coaching tools.
Become a family coach: What requirements do you have to meet?
The requirements for training as a family coach also vary from provider to provider. Some stipulate a minimum age (e.g., age of majority) or a specific school-leaving qualification. In some cases, previous professional training in the social or family therapy field is also required. However, most programs are also open to career changers.
In terms of interpersonal skills, the following requirements should be met:
Facilitation skills (important in a family session).
You see, the required interpersonal skills are basically self-explanatory. They apply not only to family coaches, but to coaches in general: If you don't like working with people or have difficulties in the area of communication, you will hardly find your professional fulfillment as a coach.
On the other hand, one's own shyness is not necessarily an exclusion criterion for a successful career in family coaching. Most training programs are designed to specifically help participants come out of their shells more. Often it can even be an advantage if the coach has a calmer mentality and can consequently listen attentively.
With the help of a family coaching, a harmonious family togetherness can be restored. The reasons for which a family coach is sought out can be as varied as the individual families themselves. Coaching usually consists of conversations in combination with the application of various coaching tools (e.g. Family constellation, circular questioning, or reframing).
A good family coach offers his clients help to help themselves. At the end of a successful coaching session, the family has developed its own strategy to better cope with future crises. Blaming is out of place in family coaching: It is much more about developing understanding for each other and understanding that everyone has a subjective view of problematic situations.
Appreciation, communication and cohesion: these are the most important goals of family coaching.
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