Prospective clients often think in terms of individual counseling. This can be a good place to start, but after an initial interview, Dr. Horn may suggest that you ask a family member to join for one or more meetings.
"Dr. Horn, just what is family therapy, anyway?"
That "second-in-command" requires support, as well, and really wants to be heard. They are also often helpful in revealing an area that I should address with the caregiver to make the caregiver's job easier and to bring more nurturance into the relationship with their parent.
"How do you decided who will come in?"
I never know how to answer that question! All I can ever say is, "We play it by ear." Whether it starts with an individual seeking help or a request to evaluate an elder, we wend our way along. It is a "gentle journey," but family therapy has many unexpected twists and turns that, so often, result in a joyful coming together.
"Is marriage counseling family therapy, by your definition?"
Yes, it is a form of family therapy, but it has its own unique requirements. Many times a client will come for couples therapy, and, as it turns out, we may branch off into individual work with one or the other. For example, we may do some anger management with one spouse in individual sessions, but still within the context of the couple's counseling.
We may venture off into dealing with an undiagnosed condition that has been at the crux of difficulties. We may have to work with one of the children's issues. That may require, for example, working alone with one parent on parenting skills for a few sessions. Evaluation and interventions weave together. But we are always present as a family, whoever is in the room.
"Dr. Horn, what are some factors that make you think family therapy might be in order?"
Family therapy has several different aspects. For me, it is a concept that encompasses all family members, living and passed on, friends, people who work with the individual--like a big umbrella over the individual's environment. Many relationships are working well, and we celebrate those strengths. But through our discussions, we may have noticed that some interactions are not working well and are causing distress. Rather than trying to solve that situation with one individual, why not get together, hear the perspectives of others and then problem-solve together? So often that invited person has been wanting to be heard for a long time.
I do have some stringent "policies" to which I adhere. First, there is no blame, blaming, finding blame; what we are striving for is understanding. Second, every, even collaterally involved, person is treated with the same respect. My goal is to hear each person's perspective. When a family member feels that they are being heard, they are able to share. It may be the first time that the significant other has heard the true feelings of their loved one
DISTRESS that involves relationships rather than the inner struggles of one person is one key that may suggest we might benefit from meeting together with one or more family member. Another indication that family therapy would be beneficial is a need for SUPPORT. For example, in counseling an adult child about their aging parent, I may suggest that the spouse come in with that caregiver. The spouse who is "second in command" is called upon to give the caregiver support in their task of being there for their loved one as they deal with the difficulty of the aging process in their parent. GREATER and FASTER CLARITY is one of the most important benefits. We don't have to guess or speculate. We can just ask the other person. There is a description on the "Individuals and Couples Counseling" page of how a potentially emotionally charged and painful conversation can be handled to reduce anxiety and to quietly listen to one another.
"I'm gettin' a new BABY!!"