When families come in we emphasize family relationships as an important factor in psychological health. We view problems as symptoms of dysfunctional interactions, communications and emotional dynamics within the whole family, rather than the fault of any individual.
One of the main reasons a family seeks counseling is that someone’s behavior is upsetting everyone else. They want the therapist to smooth things out and keep things going the way they were. We work with couples from a family systems perspective. We help you to reflect upon and understand the intergenerational aspects of present dysfunctional family interactions. Once you understand this you can free yourselves from the painful family patterns, and re-create your relationship into your shared, unique vision . We teach you productive communication, effective problem solving skills, how to de-fuse conflict, and how to find the happiness that a shared life can bring.
But the family therapist knows that the person with the troublesome behavior is the “Identified Patient”, meaning that’s who the family sees as psychologically ill. In reality, the identified patient is the family member who is behaviorally speaking for everyone. No one feels good about the way things have been going and something has to change.
As a family therapists, we may focus more on how patterns of interaction maintain the problem rather than trying to identify the cause, as this can be experienced as blaming by some families.
Family systems theory assumes that the family as a whole is larger than the sum of its parts. Instead of meeting with one individual, all or most family members are involved in the therapy process.
Family therapy is particularly helpful during transitional crises in a families’ life cycle, for example: ·
- Engagement & Wedding
- Learning to get along with in-laws
- During pregnancy & after childbirth
- When children start middle school & high school
- Leaving for college
- Divorce & remarriage
- Health Crisis
- Financial Problems
- Death & Bereavement
What Happens In Family Therapy?
Working together with us, you will examine your family’s ability to solve problems and express thoughts and emotions. You may explore family roles, rules and behavior patterns in order to spot issues that contribute to conflict. We often brings entire families together in therapy sessions. However, family members may also see her individually, in pairs, or with extended family members according to her ongoing assessment.
Family therapy may help you identify your family’s strengths, such as caring for one another, and weaknesses, such as an inability to confide in one other. Family therapy can help you pinpoint your specific concerns and assess how your family is handling them. Guided by your therapist, you’ll learn new ways to interact and overcome old problems. In the end, you will be better equipped to cope with problems and emotional pain, understand each other’s needs, desire to help each other, and enjoy healthy interactions.
We also specialize in helping stepfamilies. Our approach is based upon a teaching model created by Jeanette Lofas, who received a presidential commendation in 1996 for “outstanding efforts in strengthening stepfamilies across America”.
One of the first things that couples must understand is that new families don’t blend. They learn to co-exist peacefully and, hopefully, with love. This is the primary goal of the counseling. A peaceful home, not a battlefield!
Conflict immediately arises when parents expect their suddenly newly assembled family to operate like the traditional nuclear family. It cannot work. It’s like trying to build a contemporary new home on the blueprint of an historic colonial house. Can you imagine what the result would look like?!
Most of the counseling is done with the parents, one of whom has called the office with anxiety and the complete overwhelms. We teach them that they must work as a united parental team, and that the children must respect this hierarchy. It is normal to find this to be challenging. Alliances must shift: parent with parent rather than each parent with their own kids. Without this shift in boundaries you will never achieve the harmony you and even more, your children yearn for.
Once the counselor has empowered the couple to accomplish this, the parents work on family rules, consequences and rewards, consistency, dealing with the shuttle of children between two households, and even the conflict between your partner and the ex-spouse.
It can be done! With true dedication to this new family, hard work, and a change in perspective, you can reap rewards you would never have expected when you started this counseling journey.