Doing effective family therapy means looking at a variety of factors and thinking of them all systemically. When therapists talk about a "systems" approach, they refer to how all of the members in the family interact with one another, how the child's relationship with their friends or outside influences affect the family, how the relationship with the school impacts the child and family, how the parent's marriage or dating life impacts the family, and how the children relate to one another. This is what makes family therapy so much fun: there so many angles with which we can work on a system and improve it. When you enter family therapy with me, you will immediately understand that no one is to blame and everyone holds some responsibility to improving the family dance. Similar to the other approaches I practice, we will work on improving skills, fortifying boundaries, and increasing the sense of warmth and compassion in the family. You will never leave a session with me without clear direction for what to try for the next week!
I approach family therapy from two perspectives. First, I draw from Acceptance and Family Therapy through the family context and, second, I use a very well researched approach called Parent Management Training. PMT is a powerful tool for increasing both your attachment to your child and your level of skill simultaneously.
Do you work with children with special needs?
Yes! I have a long history of working well with children with developmental challenges and their families. When you engage with me, you join a team. I will work with the other providers on your team or recommend other providers who may be an asset. We will strategize to improve the quality of life for all members of the family.
How long do most cases take?
I am quite enthusiastic, so I will give the parents and family as much direction as they can manage in one session. If the parents are motivated and engaged, some behavioral problems can be addressed in as few as three sessions. An average length for treatment would be 6-12 weeks to resolve behavioral problems and improve attachment in the family. Some cases may last longer because the parents want ongoing support or there are more complicated family challenges to address.
Is it okay to progress from family therapy to couples or individual therapy?
In fact, I expect this to happen. I find that most parents are very motivated to help their children, but less diligent about seeking their own help. Once we've established a relationship and you see that these skills are working then addressing problems in the marriage or in one parent's personal life is a natural progression. In order for everyone to be well in a family, it's best if we address everyone's needs and level of functioning. There may be circumstances in where this is not appropriate, but these are rare and I would refer you to someone I trust.