As we know, children are not able to communicate on the level of adults. Children communicate best through playing! With play therapy, children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behavior, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others. Play provides a safe psychological distance from their problems and allows expression of thoughts and feelings appropriate to their development.
Individual therapy involves meeting with a therapist one-on-one for the purpose of reducing internal suffering, which may occur in the form of problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, and the sensations that occur in the body. Ongoing psychotherapy is a common and useful means of self-growth and self-actualization for many people.
Couples therapy is similar to family therapy but concentrates on the one-to-one relationship of the couple. Our Western culture teaches us that independence is of great value and that we should not need others to thrive. However, when couples practice “you and me” rather than on “us” in a committed relationship, the couple tends to have more of an emotional disconnection. This can make decision making difficult leading to criticism, stonewalling, anger, & resentment. A secure attachment is a key component of this unity and building a firm foundation for trust. Then each person in the relationship has the confidence to use inner emotions and have the feelings received sensitively. Sometimes a couple needs help dealing with external trauma, betrayal, stress, or loss that affects the relationship in a negative way. Reconnecting together with a therapist can help this process tremendously.
Is Couples Therapy JUST for married people? No – often couples therapy is sought before the wedding during pre-marital counseling, in a committed dating relationship, or a couple that is cohabiting. Most couples might wait to call a counselor right before they call a lawyer, but the best time is when the couple first realizes there is a serious dysfunction in how issues are resolved or have difficulty connecting in grief, post-partum, or with an expected or unexpected life transition. As in family therapy, the ultimate goal is a realistic secure attachment leading to a better emotional connection between the two people. If you are a couple that is contemplating separation or divorce, one resource AP4M finds valuable is Transitions Divorce Prep. It is an invaluable workbook for those thinking about ending a marriage and those already in the middle of proceedings.
Family therapy is a form of counseling which specializes in treating family relationships. Our counselor can work with every combination of family relationship (whole families or couples, parents with children or individual members) to assist a family to function in more comfortable and useful ways. While most family therapists work alone with family members, others may work in pairs or a larger team of counselors.
What Situations is Family Therapy Helpful In?
• Unclear or conflicting rules, roles, and expectations
• Clearer, direct and more compassionate communication
• Inter-generational pain around grief, transition, and loss
• Patterns of managing and resolving conflict
• Parenting styles, techniques, and helpful discipline
• Issues arising from the blending of families
• Relationship repair and a better emotional connection between and among family members
How Does Family Therapy Work?
Family systems theory proposes that we as individuals first learn about ourselves, our emotions and how to manage close relationships from the experience we have growing up in our family of origin. This personal experience influences how we tend to function in all other relationships we may have throughout our lives. As we come to better understand ourselves in our family emotional system, and work to heal our natural, anxious reactions to it, we can become more flexible in our marriages, our parenting, and our work and community relationships.