Family therapy: working together toward positive change
As a child and teen therapist with a strong belief in providing support for the whole family, I will customize a therapy program with services and strategies to reflect your child and family’s specific needs. A combination of individual (child or teen) and family therapy sessions is encouraged if aligned with the goals of treatment. I also believe parental participation is crucial for changes to be effective. After all, you are the most important person in your child’s life! I see you as an expert, and myself as your co-collaborator.
Joint sessions with your child
With a younger child, as much as possible I encourage joint collaboration with your child during the sessions, so you see first hand the work we are doing together. When you are a part of the sessions, I appreciate the contribution of valuable insight, and you will have knowledge of how to implement new strategies with your child at home over the next week. Therapy can also be more effective when we join together to highlight and celebrate the child’s strengths and successes throughout the sessions, while encouraging ways for the child to take charge over the presenting problems. There might be a specific challenge in your family to work through during the session, and we can use a combination of strategies to increase awareness of each other’s needs, and to discover ways to also increase communication and collaborative problem solving. Art therapy with your child can be an enjoyable, playful, and an effective way to work through problems. The finished art piece can be a visual reminder of your work together and can provide a guide to a path forward.
A child or teen might be having specific difficulties in relationship with a sibling, and joint sessions are also an effective way to tackle these issues in the spirit of working toward a more positive outcome and increased peace within the household. I highlight and reinforce all the exceptions to the problem-saturated stories of conflict, when there might be examples of enjoyment together, and successful experiences of negotiation and compromise. Art is again often a tool that works well, as when issues are worked through in the art, oftentimes those found solutions can be generalized and applied to real life situations.
Ongoing parent support
Especially with younger children, periodic sessions scheduled without the child present are imperative to seeing effective change. Depending upon the age of the child, it can be beneficial to be open about meeting with me for parenting sessions, so he or she feels less singled out and knows we are all working together as a team. When children are older, I will discuss with them beforehand the specific information they wish me to share with you, as maintaining confidentiality is important to the therapeutic relationship. I see the family as a system, and members can settle into a familiar homeostasis regarding roles and behavior patterns within the family. These roles and patterns are probably not working for you, but are typically hard to break. I find it most helpful to meet with both you and your child when possible, in order to come at the problem from all sides. During parent support sessions, we can put our heads together and discuss all the things you have done to try to fix the problem, and we can focus on what has worked. I can offer a new perspective and a variety of strategies to reinforce or try out, in order to begin to help you make changes you want to see in your family.