Counseling Resources for Military Families

Published July 20, 2021 | Vanesha McGee

Counseling Resources for Military Families

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The United States military branches include the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Space Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard. In addition to the 2.1 million U.S. military members stationed around the globe, more than 2.6 million military family members support their loved ones through their service.

According to the 2019 U.S. Department of Defense military profile, about 37% of military families include children. Counseling resources support over 1.6 million children and nearly 1 million spouses connected to military service members.

All military branches offer counseling and other therapeutic services to members.

All military branches offer counseling and other therapeutic services to members. Family members can access some of these resources, including health and wellness coaching, limited free counseling options, and mood resilience tools.

Counseling resources that help family members manage the deployment of a caregiver or cope with an active-duty death can make a huge impact.

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Military Marriage Counselors

Marriage counseling offers support to spouses based on each couple's needs. The Department of Defense provides access to marriage counseling for active-duty military.

In addition to active-duty military, reserve, guard, and veterans can access counseling resources through different avenues. While organizations may focus on marriage counseling, some provide additional services to active-duty military and veterans.

  • Active Duty

The MFLC Program, provided by the Department of Defense, offers a library of resources for marriage support, including counseling and educational materials.

Retreat programs offer families an environment to focus on the relationship challenges of military life. Led by chaplains, Strong Bonds works to build resilience within each family unit.

This consultation program offers marital coaching and provides resources that support positive familial and romantic relationships.

Hosted by the Marine Corps, PREP teaches communication and problem-solving skills to couples.

CREDO, a Navy resource, offers retreats and events to develop relationship skills for couples, as well as family bonding retreats.

Access to resources and marriage counselors within the toolkit help to strengthen military marriages, and aid spouses in their job hunts.

  • VA Marriage Counselors and Other Counseling for Veterans

The VA offers virtual and in-person counseling options to eligible veterans. Services include marriage and family counseling in addition to readjustment counseling.

Chaplains provide spiritually centered family and marriage counseling for military service members.

CVN provides services to veterans and their families, including marriage counseling.

The organization provides free counseling services to veterans and their families seeking care outside the military system.

Military Counseling for Children

Military family counseling provides support for youth in unique military situations. Some common military circumstances that youth face include deployment of a parent or caregiver, changing schools multiple times, and indirect exposure to combat.

Children in military environments may benefit from tailored, professional counseling support. Counselors can help children reduce stress and develop healthy habits for dealing with challenging circumstances related to military life.

From retreats just for kids to family adventures, the National Military Family Association's programs provide opportunities for children to interact with peers and for families to reconnect with each other after a deployment or injury.

The Branch operates a Military Family Life Counseling Program where children can access support groups, activities, and counseling services designed for military family members. Children with unique behavioral needs can receive tailored counseling.

Military OneSource provides licensed counseling services for youth addressing self-esteem, behavior, and concerns related to deployment and military life.

This online community for military children offers peer connections and relevant resources for the challenges of military life.

Military Family Grief Counseling

Grief counselors help families cope with trauma, including the loss of a loved one. Services for gold star families, those who lost a loved one through military service, offer grief support and healing resources tailored to military life. Military family grief counseling can help heal the mental and emotional wounds of a military injury or death.

REBOOT Recovery offers free programs to military members and their families. Faith-based programs offer trauma healing practices and an online community of support.

Readjustment counseling at the VA provides eligible family members with bereavement counseling after an active-duty death. Services also include group therapies and referral programs.

The foundation provides financial assistance for counseling with licensed professionals. Funding, offered to Post-9/11 veterans and their families, supports private counseling related to grief, trauma, and injury.

Offered by the National Military Family Association for free, this three-day program supports families learning to cope with a military injury, emotional trauma, or illness.

Careers in Family Therapy

Military counselors must obtain counseling licensure and all requirements of a college counseling degree program. Military and family life counselor programs, a Department of Defense initiative, require counselors to obtain a graduate-level counseling degree. While not required, some counselors join a military branch to work with its members. Military counselors can deploy as active military members, a part of a medical team unit.

If you are considering a counseling degree, explore the links below for more detailed information.

Looking to become a marriage and family therapist? Read about available programs:

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the military offer counseling?

The military offers counseling services for members of all branches. Counseling programs extend to family members and provide virtual, face to face, and group therapy sessions.

Does the military pay for marriage counseling?

Some military programs provide free marriage counseling, including ones run by the Department of Defense. Marriage counseling supports healthy communication, problem-solving, and positive connection between spouses.

Does the VA offer marriage counseling?

The VA offers marriage counseling to eligible veterans. Combined with other counseling services, its mental health programs support veterans needing care and resources. Additionally, a variety of civilian led programs provide marriage counseling to military veterans.

What are the three types of counseling in the Army?

The three main types of Army counseling include event counseling, performance counseling, and professional growth counseling. The Army review process of counseling refers to the assessment of leadership traits and responsible actions.

What is the goal of family therapy?

Family therapy involves building or rebuilding connections and resolving conflicts between family members. Family therapy can also assess marriage issues, parenting skills, or care of family member needs.

Feature Image: SDI Productions / E+ / Getty Images

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