A family life consultant helps families cope with recent changes and adjust to new situations. Consultants may work with a variety of different family situations including those dealing with substance abuse, a recent loss, a disabled family member or the return of a family member after a period of absence. Hospitals and military bases often employ a family life consultant to assist families who must adapt to new family dynamics.
Prior to choosing a family life consultant career, most people work as social workers, psychologists or in other areas of mental health care. With training and experience in family counseling, a family consultant may choose to start her or his own counseling business or may apply for employment at an agency that provides family life services. Whether working as an independent consultant or whether employed by a larger agency, the goal of a family consultant is always to help guide clients toward creating a healthy family life.
Job descriptions vary, but some of the most common, yet specific duties of a family life consultant include leading classes and workshops on parenting children at various stages of life, creating family activities that promote cohesiveness and communication, and meeting with family members to discuss private family concerns. A family life consultant also assesses a family’s needs and makes referrals to other professionals for supportive services when such is deemed to be necessary. Consultants who work with military families often work to help families adjust to a service member being away from the family while on active duty, as well as helping soldiers reintegrate into the family upon returning home. Consultants working in a hospital setting may have a different job description, however. For instance, a family life consultant who works in a hospital may be responsible for helping families adjust to a family member’s recent disablement or may simply provide information on the resources available to families with one or more disabled members.
While a lot of individuals become a family life consultant after training in social work or psychology, not all do. Some may have limited training in education or behavioral sciences, but have significant experience working in outreach programs that benefit families. While such is not formal family life consultant training, some employers will hire a new consultant for this type of work if an individual has experience speaking in front of groups, offering supportive resources and communicates well with others.