My Approach to Family Therapy

Another area of my expertise is working with children and families.  This typically involves working with teens, however I have experience working with children as young as 2 years old.  I see children as a piece of a family system.  Working with children involves family therapy, couples therapy, as well as traditional play therapy approaches directly with children.  My play therapy approach involves using fun, playful, and creative ways of talking about emotions, experiences, behaviors, and families.  Body movement, art therapy, prop based play therapy, and sand tray therapy are all approaches that I use working with kids.  In a nonjudgemental way it is important to recognize how a family system shapes a child while at the same time recognizing that children often have their own work to do developing coping skills, using resources, and identifying feelings.  Our first session will focus on both the child’s and the family’s needs.  I utilize narrative therapy extensively when working with children: finding fun names for problems, finding creative ways to externalize the problem from the child, and developing a sense of how to feed a new story for the child.  See my section on My Approach To Therapy for more information on narrative therapy.

Family Systems Theory

My approach to family therapy originated with my exposure to the work of Dr. Murray Bowen.  Bowen family systems theory is a theory of human behavior that views the family as an emotional unit and utilizes systems theory to describe the interactions within the unit.  Essentially, each part of the family system affects other parts of the family system.  A change in one person’s functioning is predictably followed by reciprocal  changes in the functioning of others.  People at times feel very distant from their family members, however they are inevitably emotionally intertwined with their family members more than they realize.   Knowledge of how the emotional system in one’s family, work, and social systems operate reveals new and effective options for solving problems in each of these areas.  Children and Family Therapy can be a wonderful way to work through problematic tension and/or behavior in the family or to simply answer questions and feel more confident as a family.