Family Therapy and Counseling for Families
Family Therapy is a form of therapy that is based on helping families function well, where each member feels understood, valued, and supported. It approaches problems from a strength-based perspective – each family member has unique skills and talents – and the family as a whole has things they do well, in spite of whatever disfunction might exists. For example, I was speaking to a married couple recently who in spite of their significant relationship problems, have always kept their arguments away from the children. That is a strength in this family! In family therapy, we build on those strengths to help the family improve in the areas of dysfunction.
It is a style of therapy where the perspective of each person is seen as valid in some way, yet at the same time, where each adult and teen is encouraged to learn to see the problems from others’ perspectives too. For the younger children in the family, the focus is a little different because it’s important that their participation be age-appropriate. Keep reading and I will give some examples!
What to Expect in Family Counseling?
Counseling for families is done in many different ways because each family and each situation is unique. So, just like in all of the therapy I do, I never use a cookie-cutter model. I am trained and experienced in many different types of psychotherapy and counseling, and I utilize a combination of different approaches and techniques to get the best results in each situation. (Sometimes, you may read on a therapist’s website that their methods of therapy are “proven” to be effective. The truth is that many therapy methods and styles are effective. You can read more about this on some of my other blog posts: “Proven Methods of Therapy”, “What is a SuperShrink and Why Should Your Therapist Be One?”, “Types of Psychotherapy and Counseling”).
Let me give you a few examples of how family therapy might work.
Two parents and an adolescent; the parents are doing well as a couple, but the teen has lots of behavioral problems, and is using drugs. In this case, I would likely see the teenager and the parents in separate sessions for a while first. With the teen, I would work on his substance abuse, his behavioral problems, and the emotional and psychological issues that may be at the root of his problems. With the parents, I may work on parenting and communication skills. Then, when the groundwork has been done to lead to productive family therapy sessions with everyone in the room, we would add that to the treatment strategy.
If there are young children and older children in the family, we might have some sessions with everyone that are more focused on keeping in mind the age of the youngest child, and working on skills that are appropriate for everyone, including the young child (like healthy ways to express feelings). This type of session would include more activities and games, because that is how young children learn and communicate. And then maybe some individual sessions with the older child, who may be dealing with issues such as developing sexuality, so that child may need some private time with the family counselor to feel free to express himself or herself.
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Dr. Chantal Gagnon
Dr. Chantal Marie Gagnon, Ph.D., LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist, relationship counselor, and life coach in Plantation, Florida. Dr. Gagnon provides individual therapy, family counseling services, and couples therapy in her Plantation, FL office. Coaching services are available nationwide.
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