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Our Approach to Working with Families

Mental illness sufferers are not just individuals but entire families. Yet, most seeking our services primarily identify an individual family member with a longstanding diagnosed psychiatric condition, or a newly acquired one or suspected of one yet to be diagnosed.

The identified individual may have experienced a recently brief or lengthy psychiatric hospitalization or is soon to be discharged from a psychiatric ward and needs ongoing outpatient treatment and psycho-therapeutic support.  The severity of the illness or attempts to cope with the illness may include self-destructive gestures or suicidal behaviors, mismanagement of their dysregulated emotions, mood fluctuations, and conflicting relationships, as well as anxiety and depression. Requests for psychotherapeutic interventions for an individual during the initial contact with our office, often expand to include work with other members or with the entire family.

We are able to accommodate Online Video sessions from individuals or families that sometimes develop  into multiple service requests for more than one family member up to the entire family.

We also receive requests for the therapeutic management, reduction and elimination of an addiction such as alcohol, drugs, sexual obsessions and compulsions, or gambling, and other behaviors that worsen functioning and compromises family and other social relationships. Many of these referrals contain significant levels of complexity involving multiple service providers, institutions, medical practitioners, hidden agendas, secondary and tertiary gains by other family members, as well as other family issues overshadowed by the identified addiction. We often explore the relational dynamics of the addiction to other issues in the family, how other family members are being impacted, what role the addiction plays in the overall family functioning and coping, how it limits and perpetuates dysfunctional family patterns. It is not untypical for a family’s request for therapeutic addiction services contain many challenges at the outset, mixed messages, levels of motivation and commitment by different family members, disagreements, manipulations and    specificity of goals attainment. 

Requests are frequent for treatment services to address family life cycle issues that have intensified, escalated and manifested as conflicting parenting styles and philosophies, teenage identity, gender and autonomy issues, extended family relations and loyalties, inter-generational, racial, and cultural family boundary, values and tradition conflicts. Often these issues are more evident in interracial and intercultural marriages and extended families, with divergent family histories, languages and religions.  

Families also seek therapeutic support when they experience significant losses include the death of one or a series of family members, sometimes even a pet. Such losses may include the sudden or long-standing illnesses or infections that lead to temporary or permanent disruption of physical and mental functioning, chronic pain and permanent disability. Work-related or motor vehicle accidents, leading to lengthy rehabilitation and return to work, with potential temporary or permanent work interruption, job termination or lay-offs, necessitating retraining or careers changes. Such events can destabilize a family system cohesion and compromise the family’s ability to bounce back to their previous level of functioning and adaptability. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have responded with our 100% commitment and ability to provide online therapeutic services. Families have been encouraged by our services and are making themselves more available to benefit from our online family interventions.  

 

When a family gets wedged in their development, the potential for resuming their growth is inherent within the family itself, if the relational patterns blocking their realization is removed. Four principles originate from this assumption to which we adhere: 

1) The family is not a mere recipient but is its own change agent, always possessing the key to its own solution. We consider the ‘family’ as the primary context even when working with a subgroup or even only one family member. 

2) Our therapeutic responsibility is to catalyze change by actively influencing the family to recover what has historically been deselected as growth-promoting relational patterns. We actively engage the family in recovering relational arrangements that renders additional and better aspects of their rigidly caricatured selves. 

3) Therapeutic change proceeds from the relation to the individual, which means that change in interactions is a condition of psychological change and not the other way around. We confirm and encourage family members to experiment with behavior previously constrained by the family to allow the emergence of new possibilities that adds greater complexity to their adaptation. 

4) We help families develop new, more adaptive patterns of interaction allowing both for belonging and differentiation. This more evolved pattern of interaction promotes greater reliance on a more complex family network. 

We essentially work with families by challenging their existing patterns of interaction and supporting their engaging in healthier, more adaptive patterns.

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