The ‘Family’ is a fundamental unit that can give us a sense of connection, security and enjoyment. Family is an environment to raise our children. Family is te place we come home to throughout our lives. Family is the place we welcome others – with their families.
But, ‘Family Therapy’ has had to adapt to the ever-changing spectrum of what constitutes a family. While many families start off with the traditional husband-wife marriage, there are increasing numbers of families that are composed of divorced or single parents, second marriage parents, co-habiting couples, blended families, couples or singles with adoptive or foster children, same sex unions and marriages, or parenting by grandparents, aunts or other family members, and empty nest families. For some families, the definition includes relationships with other families, neighbors and friends. What can be said is that families of all forms can suffer disruptive and distressful disruptions for a broad spectrum of reasons. Each necessitates tailored therapy.
Family Problems and Needs
Some families come to therapy to prevent problems from developing when challenges, such as separation, divorce, changing schools, relocation or birth are anticipated. For other families, problems may have developed slowly as marital relationships become increasingly strained, or children’s developmental phase becomes problematic through their poor choices, substance abuse or acting-out. In others, sudden discoveries or traumas can severely challenge family members who are unprepared to cope or respond. Sometimes families have responded to stress and chaos by making rules (and then more intense rules), but this just seems to magnify the problem. In other families it has been difficult to ask for help and things have deteriorated beyond tolerable limits. The net result from these challenges is that families can end up in a dysfunctional or hostile equilibrium, or deteriorate to the level of hopelessness and separation.
But, there are positive ways forward to reconnection and success! I’ll help you understand the roots and mechanisms of your conflicts and challenges, and help you move forward in a realistic problem-solving way that takes the best from the many family therapy approaches available.
For all families, I take a compassionate, non-judgmental and cooperative approach to address your conflicts and problems in a way consistent with your family’s preferences, culture and way of life. After careful assessment, we will identify which therapeutic approach will work best to solve your problems and achieve your goals.
I have worked with families facing many challenges: frequent arguments, conflicts, mutual insults; difficulties in managing careers and family responsibilities; relocation, divorce, blending; disruptive and defiant behaviors in children; illnesses in the family; children’s developmental issues; and substance abuse in parents and children. I will help you decrease conflicts, address painful topics and assist parents in managing their children’s behavior efficiently. Many issues are most effectively addressed as a family because they have an impact on everybody. I make therapy a supportive and empowering process that builds on your strengths and encourages members to work collaboratively. Family members also learn to identify the deeper emotional issues that contribute to family distress. Therapy will allow you to express these feelings in a neutral but validating way, that encourages empathy and trust from other family members. I will then help you all restore a sense of balance and contentment.
By understanding the structure and dynamics of your family, we can identify dysfunctional and disruptive interactions and subsystems. We will then work incrementally to establish goals, boundaries, guidelines and interaction dynamics to re-stabilize the family into a healthy, functional and enjoyable system for everyone. Some problems emerge from one family member being identified as ‘the problem’. Here, we will help everyone adapt to the problem in order to facilitate positive change for all. Put another way, often problems need others to open doors to solutions – I’ll help you do just that. I will also help you open up honest and direct communication between each other in order to identify issues and express your feelings through family narratives so you can make mutually beneficial changes in how the family interacts. Importantly, we will facilitate each member contributing to the solution. From young children to parents, it is important to feel part of a family whilst retaining a sense of self and autonomy. Emphasis will focus on the emotional experience of being in the family, and expand your sense of self in the context of membership. We will work in practical ways to achieve this integrated role and for all to be the person they want to be within the family.