Child & Family

Child & Family Therapy

Even the most loving families can sometimes need professional help, and when it feels like the issues in your family are too big for you to handle or aren’t getting better, it may be time to reach out for help. Family therapy sessions can look different for each family and may include parent sessions, parent(s)-child sessions, sibling sessions, individual sessions, or any combination of these. The treatment plan is tailored specifically for each family.

Family therapy seeks to create a feeling of trust, mutual respect, and strong communication within families. When all family members feel emotionally secure in family discussions, they can discuss issues and disclose feelings. With each member feeling heard and validated, the family can work together to find solutions to problems and build individual relationships between all members. As sessions progress, the family will create a stronger bond while processing issues together, and the deep wounds that have been festering within the family can finally begin to heal. As your therapist, I will continue to moderate until together the family determines that they are comfortable and confident they can implement the skills on their own.

While I have extensive training in many different therapy modalities and interventions, I gravitate towards Emotionally-Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) and child-play modalities when working with children & families.

Emotionally-Focused Family Therapy (EFFT).

What Is It?

Emotionally Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) is an integration of humanistic and systemic therapeutic approaches. The focus of treatment is on the ongoing construction of a family’s present experience and how patterns of interaction are organized and expressed between family members. Another significant aspect of EFFT is its detailed attention to emotions. Identifying emotions is viewed by the therapist as essential in how family members view themselves and others, or an event. Emotions are hard wired in our brain and are meant to inform us about our environment. They also contain physical impulses, which are designed by nature to be an immediate and adaptive call to action. In EFFT, emotions are categorized as primary and secondary. Primary emotions have been identified by researchers as universal emotions, such as joy, anger, fear, sadness, surprise, and shame. Emotions are openly identified, shared and often reframed by the EFFT therapist, to help family members navigate into new and more favorable patterns of interaction, one’s that are more empathic and capable of building safe and healthier relationships. (Stavrianopoulos, K., 2019). 

EFT Therapy

EFT therapy can help to rebuild mutual trust and create a closer bond with your partner. With the guidance of a couple’s therapist, there are three stages of emotionally focused therapy you can employ.

1. The first step is to work on identifying key concerns and how negative interaction patterns escalate into conflict. Your therapist works with you both to identify any hidden fears and emotions that are impairing your connection and helps you re-frame them.

 

2. Guided by your therapist, you and your partner work to change your patterns of interaction. As a couple, you work on expressing yourself as well as accepting each other’s emotions and needs. Also, you both receive coaching from the therapist, couples “homework”, and guidance regarding discussion of topics that trigger conflict in the relationship.

 

3. During the third stage of EFT, your therapist shares tools on how to better communicate with one another. Again, you’ll practice these skills outside of the therapy session to gain more experience using them, noticing and sharing in future sessions their effect on the health of your relationship. 

Child Play Therapy & Theraplay

What Is It?

is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge.

How can it help?

General Play Therapy
Play Therapy is a type of therapy intended for children that uses play to communicate. Play is a natural medium for children, and unlike adults, children do not typically engage in conversation about what is bothering them, especially younger children. Often it is because of the child’s developmental growth—they are not yet able to articulate their thoughts and feelings. Another common reason is that a child may not feel emotionally safe in expressing their thoughts and feelings. When children struggle, they often act out their struggles and exhibit behavior that are perceived as problematic and prompt parents to reach out for help.

Generally, all forms of play therapy aim to provide a child with a safe place where they feel their inner world is unconditionally understood and accepted, help them learn to identify, deepen, reflect on, express, process, and manage difficult thoughts and feelings, to expand their window-of-tolerance (or their resilience to arousing stimuli), and to develop a positive self-concept.

Two major forms of play therapy include Non-Directive Play Therapy and Directive Play Therapy. Non-Directive Play Therapy allows the child to direct the play. The therapist often does not directly intervene and instead maintains a position of curiosity and mirrors, tracks, and reflects the child’s play. In Directive Play Therapy, a therapist will engage the child in specific activities to meet a specific goal. Within both Non-Directive and Directive Play Therapy, there are different types of play a therapist will engage children in. The type of play selected is uniquely selected for each child.

Theraplay
Another newer type of play therapy is something called Theraplay. While I am not certified in Theraplay, I include interventions based on Theraplay in my clinical practice. Theraplay is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge.

Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding. In treatment, the parent(s) and child are guided through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The act of engaging each other helps the parent(s) regulate the child’s behavior and communicate love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected, and worthy.

You are here because you want help!

Under the guidance of a trained experiential therapist, the client can begin to release and explore negative feelings of anger, hurt, or shame as they relate to past experiences that may have been blocked or still linger.