Family Therapy


Children are not properties to own and rule over, but gifts to cherish and care for.  Our children are our most important guests, who enter our home, ask for careful attention, stay for a while, and then leave to follow their own way. - Henri Nouwen

Why family therapy?

Have you ever noticed how one family member's struggles can affect the entire family?  That's because every family is a living, breathing system - one whole, made up of family members with different personalities, feelings, and needs.  If one person pushes or pulls the system in a certain direction, everyone else is going to feel that movement.

 

I believe in the importance of working with an entire family system, since each person in the family is impacted by other family members' struggles or challenges.  When partnering with families,  I am committed to a particular model of therapy called Emotionally Focused Family Therapy, because this model:

  • explains why families get stuck in the same struggles over and over again
  • honors parents' instincts to be who they desire to be:  caring parents who want the best for their children
  • helps children/teens express their needs and share openly with their parents
  • charts a new path of connection:  parents express their care, concern and comfort in ways that get through to their children, and children/teens reach out for their parents when they need to feel close and connected

Where do we start?

When I begin working with families, I like to spend a few sessions getting to know everyone in the family, as well as the family as a whole system.

 

First, I meet with the parent(s) before meeting with the child(ren).  During this time, I want parents to get to know me as someone they can trust to work with their child(ren).  I also like to explain the therapy process and the Emotionally Focused Family Therapy model.  I want to learn as much as possible about the family and I also want to be available to answer any questions about myself or the work we will do together.

 

After the parent session, I prefer to have a "family meeting" with parent(s) and child(ren) together.  I've found that a family meeting is a comfortable way for children to meet me for the first time and to see that their parent(s) recognize that changes need to be made in the family as a whole.  We'll talk about some of the family's favorite times together as well as how therapy can help the family become stronger, healthier and more connected.

 

Finally, I will take some time to get to know the child(ren).  When I meet with a child individually, we do a few activities together so I can learn more about his/her world.  For some children, I oftentimes facilitate a play therapy session, as this is a more natural way for young children to express themselves.

 

Once we've spent a few sessions together, I meet again with the parent(s) to share my feedback.  I appreciate hearing the parents' perspective on the first few therapy sessions, I will offer my impressions and observations of the family thus far, and we will discuss suggestions for how to move forward with therapy.

 

Do we need family therapy?

Perhaps you can relate to some of the reasons why families reach out to me for support:

  • Divorce and/or re-marriage
  • Grief and loss (Death, ending of a relationship, moving, etc.)
  • Difficulty with transitions (New siblings, changing schools, etc.)
  • Recovery from abuse and/or neglect
  • Parent-child struggles (Defiance, lying, constant arguing, etc.)
  • Problems in school or with peers/siblings
  • Anxiety and/or depression
  • Dangerous behavior (self-harm, aggressive behavior, substance abuse, etc.)

Come in- how can I help?

Some different options about where we can start

Couple's Therapy

 

Understanding why we are disconnected and alone, and creating new ways of being with each other

Individual Therapy

 

Letting go of what needs to be released and discovering what needs to be found

Family Therapy

 

Learning new ways to care for family, and for kids and teens to share with their parents

 

Play Therapy

 

Helping kids explore and put words to their own world



sit and stay a while

Some thoughts I share on "Rooted + Grounded"

 

 

Rhythms:  Presence + Distraction

 

 "I am going to try to pay attention to the spring. I am going to look around at all the flowers, and look up at the hectic trees. I am going to close my eyes and listen."

- Anne Lamott


in the neighborhood

Some helpful resources in the nearby and virtual community

Spring + Summer Camps

San Diego Family Magazine

 

"Browse through your San Diego Spring/Summer Camps and Programs Guide to find awesome experiences where kids will learn new skills and make lifelong memories. Do you have an artist, scientist or future veterinarian in the family? Now's the time to plan an epic camp adventure."


 

Alair Olson, M.A.

 Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT#86504)

858.634.0302 | therapy@alairolson.com