Family Counseling Law and Legal Definition

Family counseling generally involves the use of third party intervention to assist in resolving conflicts between family members. Under state and local laws, which vary by area, it may be ordered as part of a sentence for a criminal offense. For example, counselors may focus on the family's needs as they relate to a child, and address the child's mental health needs. The purpose of these services is to improve or maintain the child's emotional or behavioral functioning. Counselors may work with both parents and children on solving problems that might otherwise lead to the out-of-home placement of a child.

The specific objectives of treatment are often to immediately stabilize, then improve, individual/marital/family functioning so as to reduce the risk of juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, emotional disorders, child abuse, neglect or exploitation.