Family Therapy

Family life can be the source of great comfort and fulfillment, but it can also bring great concern and distress. When a family goes through loss, transition, stress or trauma, the dynamics of the family can be tested, sometimes resulting in tension, miscommunication and conflict. Strained family relations often become a cause of suffering for the individual family members. And even when healthy family dynamics remain intact through trying times, there still may be concerns about how an individual family member is coping with a difficult stressor.

This is where Family Therapy comes in: to be a resource for families who are going through a period of stormy weather or who need support in addressing a particular concern or conflict. If there is stress or conflict within the family, individual family members often go through their days feeling distressed and conflicted within. This distress can interfere with work, school and other relationships. Families seek support for medical issues, financial issues, educational or employment issues, etc. – it only makes sense that families would sometimes need guidance in dealing with emotional matters as well.

A family is an emotional unit; therefore, the emotional health of the family is crucial. The general emotional tone of the family experience impacts the emotional and psychological well being of its members. Family members can affect each other deeply and increasing awareness of how we emotionally affect the other members of our family can help heal disconnection and reduce conflict. This is obviously particularly true with parents, who largely shape the emotional culture of the family.

Though I work primarily with the parent(s) when there is concern about family distress, there are times when it is important to include the child(ren) or adolescents in Family Therapy as well (depending upon the situation I also work with tween/teen boys in Individual Therapy). Sometimes it is important to assess how the child is coping in order to help the parents help their child; sometimes the voice and perspective of the child can be a catalyst for healthy change, and sometimes the child needs more direct therapeutic attention. Whether including the children/adolescents in treatment or not, Family Counseling can help shift unhealthy dynamics, strengthen family connections and help heal wounds that come from the shocks and disappointments of family life. Depending upon the needs of my clients, I work with families to:

  • Provide support and guidance through major transitions like divorce, loss, illness and reunification
  • Clarify roles and boundaries, particularly within blended families or step-families
  • Address discord and develop strategies for increasing cooperation and harmony within the family
  • Disrupt non-adaptive dynamics that keep individual family members feeling trapped and misunderstood
  • Work through feelings from past conflicts or traumas that continue to cause distress, discord or disconnection

Families provide an opportunity to be a safe haven for all its members. Unfortunately, even despite best intentions, families can become a source of insecurity, disappointment or angst. Family Therapy can offer a safe place for the family to prepare, repair, heal and strengthen. I have specific training and experience in working with families, particularly families going through separation or dealing with unique challenges that blended or step-families face.

If you are concerned about the emotional health of your family or feel your family is in need of support or healing through a challenging time, contact me to schedule a free 15-minute conversation.

To make an appointment or for more information please call 415.339.8335 in Marin or 707.583.2353 in Sonoma. Copyright 2011 Doug Silberstein, MFT. All rights reserved.