Structural Family Therapy is a therapeutic approach that investigates the frameworks, hierarchies, rules, and patterns within how a family functions. It considers what the family is made of and what keeps it standing. This approach is focused on improving boundaries, communication, hierarchical imbalances, and relationship dynamics. Structural Family Therapy seeks to help the family establish healthy boundaries within the parent and child subsystems, as well as the overall family system. Movement, role playing, processing, and perspective-taking are all included in this approach to better assist the family in addressing the elements that contribute to their distress. The therapist facilitates a space of emotional safety, as well as challenges each family member to share thoughts, feelings, observations, and interpretations with the family in efforts to minimize tension, resentment, and distress. This is done in a playful, interactive, and experiential way so that the family can build collaborative skills and connect with each other both in pain and in play.
The most common association paired with mindfulness is meditation. While meditation can be a method of mindfulness, mindfulness is simply the practice of staying in the present moment. If you’ve ever felt like you’re living in your past – like all of who you are is stuck in a world that existed five years ago – or if you feel like you are constantly living in your future, trying to plan out your life, mindful practices can help you to balance where your brain is living so that you can appreciate where you are now. When we experience trauma, our brains often polarize towards the past or the future. It’s very easy to lose touch with who we are now, what options and resources we have, and even to recognize the safety that we have from past trauma. Mindfulness helps our brains to recognize the truth of the present: “I am not there anymore, I have power now, I am around people who believe my pain.” After all, the present moment is where we have the most access to choice; the present moment is what reminds us that we have power and agency; the present moment is what contains tangible beauty.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a well-researched, reliable treatment method for trauma. The goal of EMDR is to process information that has been stored in the brain in a way that is no longer adaptive. Often times when folks are going through trauma, the nervous system takes a “screenshot” of the experience as a reference point for future protection. The traumatic “screenshot” gets stored in the body, along with all of the thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, and beliefs that came with it. EMDR can help the traumatic charge behind these things to lessen. Just like our bodies look for healing when we have injuries, our brains also look for healing when we experience trauma. Through guidance of the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model and the use of Bilateral Stimulation (BLS), EMDR creates a foundation for our brains to pursue the healing and adaptation that they are already searching for! For more information about EMDR, please click here.
Families are full of interesting and challenging dynamics. So many things can influence how a family functions and how each family member interacts with each other. Many times, families follow patterns that have been established two, three, and even four generations ago. The challenge is, these patterns may be unspoken and unnoticed, but they may be having a large impact on how the family functions, whether cohesively or destructively. Family therapy can assist in identifying harmful patterns based on pain, shame, trauma, and unhealthy communication and replace them with how the family would prefer to interact. Whether your family is facing a crisis, you want to strengthen the family bond, or you’d like to facilitate more understanding and connection in the family, family therapy is a great way to explore understanding, repair, and future family health.
Medical challenges within the family have a very particular way of causing familial pain. Medical Family Therapy is an approach that is utilized with families who have been adversely impacted by medical diagnoses, crises, procedures, deaths, transitions, and anything else associated with how medical care impacts and changes the family dynamic. It is an approach that recognizes the connection between the mind, body, spirit, and relationships. Medical Family Therapy is highly collaborative with medical providers in facilitating well-rounded care, understanding, and sensitivity towards the family. This can be helpful in supporting families through acute or chronic medical conditions, making a decision surrounding caring for a family member, or parenting a child with medical needs, among many other kinds of other medical challenges. If your family has been shaken by a medical experience, Medical Family Therapy can help you to process, make decisions, grieve, and adjust by utilizing the resources you already have and building new skills to support your family.
Are you an adult child who is yearning to address family wounds? Perhaps you are a parent who has noticed that your adult children are not very close to you? Maybe you are someone who says, “Family is everything to me,” yet you’re struggling to make that a reality? There are many situations that may prompt mature families to seek support through family therapy. Adult family therapy is geared towards facilitating a space of healthy communication, understanding, insight, and agreements for future interaction amidst family members. Much of the process includes psychoeducation, building communication, stretching collaborative skills, and repairing old wounds. Adult family therapy can be a good resource to explore boundaries, negotiate agreements for connection, and resolve past hurts. If you are seeking support for your family, family therapy can be a good place to start.
Kiddos need support through therapy too! While adults typically have experience, practice, and additional resources to work through distress, children are just learning about how to navigate transitions, challenges, and critical moments. Especially when children encounter their first experience with mental, emotional, and relational distress, children can engage in behaviors that are challenging for parents to manage. Therapy can help children learn how to regulate their emotions, how to process and resource for challenges, and how to ask trustworthy adults for help. The involvement of parents in a child’s therapeutic process is more supportive for long term change and benefit; therefore, therapy for children at Serendipity Psychotherapy is provided in conjunction with parental involvement to benefit connection, support, and systemic change.