The goal of individual therapy is to empower an individual to achieve permanent changes and to help the client to develop the skills to manage issues and to create opportunities to achieve his/her goals.
The first step when helping is Exploration. During the Exploration stage, the therapist creates a safe place where the client can reveal their story with comfort. The therapist helps the client utilizing active listening, focusing, questioning and genuine empathy and acceptance.
Once a trusting rapport is established, the therapist continues onto the second step, Challenging.
Challenging is a process that allows the therapist to challenge the client’s perception of his/her issues. By viewing the problems from all vantage points the client is able to clarify several options easing the goal setting part of the process.
Once trust is established and the goal is clarified, together the therapist and client proceed to action planning. The action planning phase of therapy is not as linear as it sounds. It is not unusual that this stage involves revisiting the exploration and challenging step many times and not in any specific order.
The three step process is implemented in a unique manner with each issue that the client presents.
In some case, one member is already planning his or her exit. It is rare to meet a couple where both parties are invested equally in the therapeutic process. There are the times when one of parties will lean forward, back straightened, look me directly in the eye and announce, “I did not want to come. He/she forced me to come.” Then snapping his/her head sharply growls in the partner’s direction. “There is nothing or no one who can make you change.” Yep, you heard it. The famous YOU statement. Game on!
At this point, you may be shaking your head and asking ‘why bother?’
Whether a couple enters my office breathing fire or as polite strangers, they have lost the ability to communicate with each other effectively. The couple either is the type of dyad who talks constantly, but at each other not to each other of the polite type, who rarely say anything meaningful to each other, the couple who withhold anything emotional from each other and avoid conflict at any cost. The goal of any capale couples therapist is to help the two people in his/her office to communicate effectively with each other. Effective communication teaches the couple to own their feelings and behaviors and to take responsibility for any actions or words that causes the other person harm.
When working with couples I do not subscribe to one theoretical approach, I adapt my approach to the dynamics I see in front of me. Throughout my vast experience, I have recognized some unspoken rules that couples would be wise to accept. “You” statements NEVER work. “I” statements may leave a person open and vulnerable, but “I” statements also help a person to be honest when they communicate. Both individuals that are in a relationship are of the problem. In a couple relationship, there are always three entities in the room, person 1, person 2 and the relationship 3. The grass is not greener on the other side. The next relationship you enter will not be miraculously wonderful, because you are bringing you to the relationship. If you are not healthy and do not know how to communicate effectively, similar problems will arise.
Whether you are looking for premarital couples’ therapy, relationship intervention therapy or want to end a relationship amicably with each person being culpable. I am here to help.
And before you begin beating yourself and each other up, Remember, at no point in school have you ever been taught how to relate to others. You have been taught mathematical and scientific relationships, but nothing about human relationships and how to have healthy, successful relationships. No Relationships 101 exists. Couples therapy is the place you will learn the principles of verbal communication as well as how your nonverbal communication sends messages to you partner. So why not give yourself the opportunity to try out some new relationship skills. You owe it to yourself. You owe it to each other!
In the examples that I shared above, I used a heterosexual couples to illustrate couples behaviors in session. I have also worked with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender clients. People from all sexual orientations participate in relationships and whether the relationship is Monogamous, Polyamorous, Open, Long distance, Casual, Friends with Benefits or Asexual, open, honest, effective communication is always necessary to insure the relationship is successful.
Society today views ‘family” differently than in the past. A family is not restricted to blood relatives who live in the same household. Individuals’ families can be composed of family of origin, extended family, nuclear family and their family of choice. The number of blended families are increasing in number due to the increasing rate of divorces in the country. The percentage of marriages that end up in divorce in the United States is 50%.
The one characteristic that all the different types of families share is that every family is a system and every member of a family is an integral part of the system. Therefore if someone in the family is not functioning correctly, the homeostasis of the entire family is disrupted.
Let me give you an example of systemic dysfunction. Most people own some type of entertainment system, have owned one in the past or have been exposed to someone else’s system. The executive branch of the system is the television and remote control. The television has components that connect to it and increase the capabilities of the system. A system can have one component added to the television and remote control or several components. For our purpose, I will assume that the system is the television that is connected to a video player, an amplifier and either speakers or a sound bar. The unseen connection is the internet wifi system. The remote control is connected to the television and all the components. The remote control insures that together the television and components create a functional entertainment system. If the television, remote or one or several components is not working, the system is inoperable.
A family is also a system and if one or several of the members are distressed, the family becomes dysfunctional. The renowned marriage and family therapist, Virginia Satir, believed that ninety eight percent of all families are dysfunctional.
So the question then becomes how is your family dysfunctional? And is the problem causing the dysfunction something that your family can fix or do you need family therapy.
Some of the potential benefits of Family Therapy
- A clear understanding of healthy boundaries
- Improved communication between members of the family
- Better problem solving
- Greater empathy toward other family members
- Instilling trust in other family members
- Reintegrating isolated family members
- Developing a supportive family environment