Do you find it difficult to avoid family conflict?
Is your family beset by power struggles, sibling rivalry or marital difficulties between parents?
Do you just wish your family members could learn to communicate better?
Do you just wish the arguments could stop?
You are not alone!
Many, many families report significant conflict nowadays!
The health of the family relationship is the most critical factor in determining each members’ mental health and long term success! Working on the emotional health of the family as a whole through Family Therapy, with a skilled, warm family therapist, will have tremendous benefits to each members’ well-being!
A family is a united system, whatever each member is going through affects everyone else. Trying to resolve individual problem without working on the system as a whole can often prove to be insufficient.
One of the main issues I find in NYC creating a need for Family Therapy is a lack of clear communication!
Family members are often not at all aware of what their fellow members think and feel about important things. This creates tremendous problems, as they are going about things blindly, unaware of how what they say and do affects the others. In addition, lack of communication creates a lack of empathy between members, which is perceived as a lack of kindness and consideration, and this creates mutual hard feelings.
However with the help of a wise, experienced family therapist, you can get out into the open clearly each members’ thoughts, feelings, needs and desires, which will have amazing results at reducing conflict!
After working on communication in session, I have seen family members exclaim, “Wow, I never knew you really felt that way!” and “So that’s the reason you get so upset! I was wondering all this time!” and “Now I see why that makes you angry, I will definitely stop!”
I have very good instincts for getting to the root of how each individual family member thinks and feels, even when other members do not perceive it.
Therefore I commonly restate to other members what one person is trying to get across, and sort of bridge the communication gap. You see, family members have very strong emotions associated with their interactions with each other, and these powerful feelings cloud their ability to truly hear each other and respond effectively. However a skilled family therapist is above the emotional fray, and therefore can properly, clearly perceive and manage all issues that need to be communicated.
This is done through the Family Counseling technique of restating, where I say, “What your mother seems to be saying is…” and “What your son really feels is…”
Once I had a family whose parents were putting a bit too much academic pressure on their 11-year old son. He was trying to communicate how and why he was unhappy with the pressure and how it was affecting him for the worse, but was having trouble making himself heard and understood. His parents reasoned, “If you get academic pressure from school and tolerate it just fine, what’s wrong with pressure from us.” The son was struggling to explain why it’s different, and in a glimmer of inspiration I perceived what was really bothering him, so I restated, “What he’s saying is that pressure from his parents is different because it has a very strong emotional component! He feels that when you disapprove of his performance in school it means you don’t love him or accept him as a person, and that is very harmful to his emotional health! That’s why he can’t tolerate the pressure from you!” The boy slapped hands with me and said, “That’s exactly what I mean, thanks for interpreting kid speak into grown-up speak!” The parents were amazed to learn how their actions were truly affecting their son, and how his emotional health was the most important foundation that must be first carefully guarded, upon which to build his academic success.
One thing I will do early on in Family Therapy in my NYC office is assess each individual element of the family to ascertain which parts need tuning up.
Maybe the parents need Couples Counseling to establish better harmony between each of them, which will set a better foundation upon which the whole family will thrive. Maybe one or both parents has emotional health issues that are affecting everyone, and it needs to be worked on in individual counseling. Maybe they are making small Parenting errors which are affecting the children and the whole family, and learning discipline tricks and tips in Parenting Counseling is what they need. Maybe the parents are favoring one child over the other, and that is creating sibling conflict and needs to be balanced out in Family Therapy. Maybe the children are treating each other unfairly, and need to learn how to develop an attitude of kindness to each other. Maybe one child has behavioral or emotional issues and needs Play Therapy or individual Talk Therapy.
In the forum of Family Therapy, all of these items can be clearly identified, and the most pressing therapeutic needs can be addressed first.
One time I had a family with an 11-year old brother who was complaining of being mistreated and rejected in school and at social events by his 12-year old sister. So in Family Therapy, I got each sibling to express what was bothering him about the other and restated those items back to each party. The brother expressed his need to be respected in front of peers and supported by an older sister that should even be sticking up for him. But the sister expressed that she was behaving this way because she was embarrassed by what her peers perceived as her younger brothers’ immature and socially inappropriate behavior. So I restated to the brother that all he would need to do is cut out those behaviors and he would earn the respect and support of his sister in public. He was thrilled to know that it was in his power to fix the situation, and that it would help him overall socially. Before coming to Family Therapy, they were both totally unaware of the details of the issue and what was really causing the conflict. But now they felt much relieved and empowered to be aware that it was only a minor problem that was causing the issue and they now had the tools to remedy it. In further sessions, they reported that the problem had been largely resolved and their sibling relationship was flourishing. In addition they were very proud at having resolved the issue themselves without resort to parental intervention.
The beauty of Family Therapy in my NYC office is that is involves very practical solutions, and great improvement and resolution of important issues can be achieved in just a few or even one session!
One very important point to remember in Family Therapy is the important role of the father. A family is like a ship at sea, and the father is like the captain. That means that everything that happens to the whole family is essentially his responsibility, just like the captain of a ship. If a ship goes down, no matter what the reason, it’s the captains’ responsibility. The mother is like the ship’s first officer; although the captain might lead, the mother governs, overseeing the details of the day-to-day operations of the family. Therefore it is important that the father leaves that job to her, and doesn’t micromanage. But even if the first officer makes a mistake and causes a problem, it is essentially the captains’ responsibility to oversee her and prevent such mistakes! Therefore, the family system not only gives the father much responsibility, but also the most power to resolve family issues. So the father will notice that if he can implement changes, they will be extremely powerful and effective in helping the whole family. The whole health of the family begins with how the father treats them. Also therefore if the father has any personal emotional health issues, they need to be worked out first as their persistence will otherwise affect the whole family in a serious way. The father sets the tone for the whole family. Just like physically, the father gives the seed and the mother builds a family with what he gives her, the father sets the emotional course for the whole family and they can only do as well as the material he gave them allows.
Therefore, if a Couples Therapy need arises, it will similarly be in more of the father’s responsibility and power to set the ball rolling in resolving the issue.
In my opinion, it is the father’s job to make the mother happy, and not the other way around! Even if the mother is resistant to change, the father with the power of overflowing kindness, wisdom and generosity, can totally influence her to come around. The father is like the sun and the mother is like the moon, she will reflect the light that he sends to her and it will illuminate the earth, or the family. However if the mother is willing to implement changes and the father is unwilling to cooperate, it will be much more difficult for her to influence him. The first officer does not have that much power over the captain. He must be motivated. This is why I am so careful to first establish a firm, trusting therapeutic alliance with the father of any family, because he will be the key to the family’s health.
The power of Parenting
In addition, Parenting is another critical issue we will focus on in Family Counseling. The most important element in any child’s life is his relationship with his parents. At all costs, the parental attitude must be one of gentleness, generosity, patience, tolerance and flexibility. Harshness, criticism, disapproval, yelling, punishment and stressful interactions must be avoided like the plague! It is amazing how by just “Tuning up” your Parenting, you can have a tremendous beneficial effect on your children and the whole family’s emotional well-being and success. Since I also specialize in child and Play Therapy, I can give you the tools you need to polish the way you interact with your children, under which they will thrive.
But you may still have concerns about NYC Family Counseling…
Family Therapy is expensive, and I’m not sure it’s worth the money…
Family Counseling is like an early intervention. If we step in and work on issues while the family is still relatively young, we prevent problems from snowballing into really major issues down the road. What requires 3-6 months of therapy now, may end up requiring 2 years if left untreated until 5 years from now. Investment in Family Therapy now will generate a tremendous return on investment for the future, in addition to saving you so many years of suffering with family conflict. In fact, I have usually seen Family Counseling to be so helpful, that at its cost it can truly be considered a steal!
Our family is very busy… when will we all get the time to be available all together for an hour every week?
Family Therapy does not require the entire family to be present for all of every session. Sometimes, just the parents need attend, sometimes one parent with one child who have issues they need to work on. Different elements can come in at different times as your schedules allow. I also have flexible evening and Sunday hours to accommodate families’ busy schedules.
I’m afraid my partner or child will be unwilling to participate in Family Counseling…
Family Therapy can begin with just part of the family in attendance, and when the reluctant ones see the benefits to everyone, they may be inspired to attend. In addition, I have a very warm and engaging manner, and after possibly meeting me, many adults and children will gain an interest in attendance. Since I am also a Play Therapist, I have many special toys for children to use during Family Therapy sessions, which shows great consideration for them and their needs, draws them in, motivates them to attend, and facilitates their expression of their feelings.
Your family can achieve the harmony and joy that it needs!
I have been working with children, parents and families since I myself was a child! My mother owned and directed a Montessori school and camp in NYC, and I grew up through grade school until college working with her students and their parents. I have worked very hard to keep my own marriage successful for nearly 20 years. I have four boys at home including 2 teenagers and I have overcome many challenges in raising them. I bring the triple vantage point of teacher, psychotherapist and seasoned patriarch together to help you sort out your family’s thorny issues. Many families have been very pleased with my overflowing attitude of kindness I display towards them!
Feel free to peruse my fascinating blog, download one of my free reports, or view my videos. If you would like to experience the magic of Family Therapy, and would like the help of a warm, gentle, Family Therapist here in NYC, you may chat with me in the chat box, or call me directly for a complementary 15-minute consultation at 646-681-1707. I look forward to speaking with you!
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