For you and the people that get on your nerves the most.
Families are tough. Complex. Sometimes you hit a hurdle that you just can't get over on your own. No matter the age or stage of the children in your family, there are difficult dynamics. We care about each other, which means that we tick each other off.
Emotionally Focused Therapy is an evidenced-based approach to family work. The focus is on helping families to understand the tough dynamics that take over when they are stressed.
ABOUT THE THERAPY PROCESS
The family counselling process starts off with the gathering of some basic information. The whole family will then come in for a session together and we'll start to unravel some of the family's difficult dynamics. After the initial session, the parent(s) will attend one session on their own, then the kid(s) for a session on their own. Along with understanding the family interactions, we will begin to create a picture of key experiences that will affect therapy.
After these initial sessions, we will meet together every one to two weeks, either all together or in smaller groups (which is more common with families of four or more). One at a time, you will have the opportunity to explore the thoughts, emotions, and bodily experiences that happen to you during your interactions with different family members. By doing this, we will begin to understand how your family members affect you, and vice-versa. Each family member will get a chance to better understand the experiences and feelings they are having, and then will experiment with expressing these new understandings to each other.
Identifying and sharing this stuff is hard work, and we will do this slowly, intentionally, and safely, using the dynamics in the room to explore what is happening in that very moment.
Later in therapy, once your family is de-escalated (i.e., fighting less, and understanding your dynamics better), we will work toward understanding and expressing the deeper underlying attachment needs in the family. For example, your teenage daughter isolates because she is afraid of disappointing you, or your elderly mother nags and criticizes you because she feels alone and is desperate to be needed.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND?
For this type of talk-based therapy, I recommend only family members that are verbally able to process some basic emotions. Generally speaking, this means children who are developmentally in Grade 1 and up. Every child is different, and so this is just a guideline. If you're interested in family therapy with younger children, find out more here.
Other than that, just about everything is fair game. Come to therapy with your 60 year old dad, your 17 year old daughter, your cousin, your step kids, your adopted or chosen siblings, or your drag mom. Family struggles come in all shapes and sizes.
Just keep in mind that safety is important. We will work toward this together, but in general, we don't encourage keeping secrets in session if they play a central role in the relational dynamic. For example, it could be harmful to keep a parent's terminal illness from the children in the family, but we could work together to tell the children and support them in a way that feels safe and manageable.