The family therapy model at Summit Counseling is designed for children and teens. The initial sessions will reduce negativity, engage the family in the therapeutic process, and generate a hopefulness that things will improve.
The therapist will identify reoccurring family conflicts and themes. The nature of these sticking points will be explored together.
Our goal in this type of counseling is not to assign blame, but rather to understand each family member’s behavior through their “noble” intent and relational needs. From there, the therapist identifies behavior changing techniques the family can implement as a whole.
With a greater understanding, respect, and empathy for each and new ways of interacting, family strength increases and the youth’s problematic behavior dissipates. The therapists accompanies these changes until they establish themselves as the new norm.
Case Example: Family Therapy
When the mother in this case was very young, her own parents demanded perfect grades and academic achievement from her. Now a mother herself, her own daughter finds herself in a similar position, with her mom demanding a high level of academic success for her.
These demands seem unreasonable or not achievable for the daughter and behavior problems develop (e.g., arriving late to and from school, getting caught smoking marijuana with her friends, etc.). She feels bad about herself with anything less than an A and starts to lose friends because of depressive symptoms that cause her to isolate herself. She also has to spend most of her time studying so does not have time to develop friendships in the way that she really wants or needs.
Through our explorations in therapy we can allow the daughter to see mom as good intentioned and only parenting how she was taught. This conclusion can be made only by exploring the mother’s feelings, her past, and her own experience. With such observation, mom will reflect on how her parents’ academic demands at once prepared her for the future but also left her resentful and hurt for feeling like she missed out on many childhood experiences. She can also become aware of the stress that this kind of demand caused her and in turn produces for her daughter.
Mom realizes that perhaps her own relationship with her parents is poor or lacking partly as a result of these hard feelings and resentments that were not addressed. Mom acknowledges that she wants to have a positive, close relationship with her daughter and is open to finding what works best for her daughter.