In working with families, my role is two-fold: I partner with parents as they learn new ways of loving, protecting and caring for their children and teens. At the same time, I also help children and teens find positive and powerful ways to let parents into their lives with openness and honesty. As this process unfolds, we find ourselves building strong, connected families.
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
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.
Perhaps you can relate to some of the reasons why families reach out to me for support: