IS OR WAS YOUR FAMILY DISTRESSED?
Families become distressed when the members of the family are unable to communicate to each other their changing wants, needs, and circumstances, and when the family is unable to adapt to them. Family members in distressed families exhibit poor and unhealthy attitudes and behaviors. Overly rigid rules, inconsistency and unpredictability, mixed messages, lack of empathy, extreme conflict, or avoidance are some of the hallmark patterns of families whose members are unable to communicate their wants and needs and adapt to them.
THE WAY OUT – RELATIONSHIPS ARE THE FOCUS
Family Therapy is a specialized approach to family counseling that attempts to explore the family’s rules and boundaries. I encourage family members to express and explore their changing thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs, and to understand, appreciate, and support each other as change occurs. I seek to identify the uniqueness of each family and each family member, and I support that uniqueness as the family adapts to needed changes in order to preserve family relationships and improve family functioning. The difference between LMFT’s and other licensed professionals is that relationships of family members are the focus of therapy as opposed to focusing on any one individual family member. Conceptualizing the relationship between family members as the focus of therapy is difficult for many counselors and therapists, who are trained to focus on individuals, not the relationships between them. The purpose of family therapy is to avoid blaming family members, and getting family members to understand each other, and to work together to preserve relationships while encouraging each family member’s healthy development. . I am specifically trained as a Family Therapist, and hold a Marriage and Family Therapist or LMFT license.
The following circumstances are often associated with family distress, particularly if these circumstances are repetitive, ongoing, and if they have become a pattern. If the following provoke your curiosity about whether similar circumstances have had an effect on you or your family, or if, as you read these circumstances, they provoke other thoughts about occurrences or patterns that you think may be relevant to issues you face as a result of family distress, you would likely benefit from family therapy.
If any of the following seem to be causing distress in your family, or if there are other circumstances that you think may be underlying problems in your family, I may be able to help.
• Substance abuse
• Children leaving home, adjustments to independence and separate lives
• Behavioral issues and academic concerns in children and adolescents
• Mental health concerns
• Separation, divorce, or blended family adjustments
• Chronic illness
Mary Holden interviewed me for my responses to questions she posed to me relating to “launching” children and the “empty nest” that results. You can read her article in the September 2012 issue of Raising Arizona Kids.