When a family has trouble getting along, it’s often in the context of how one’s relationship is defined within the family unit. For example, if a son is seen as “the troublemaker,” he may come to believe it’s his duty to rebel because of the way he’s perceived.
Families are in constant flux and are always transforming, yet members sometimes get discouraged when they feel stuck in a monotony of a recurrent role. The “rebellious son” is known to be humorous to his friends, loyal to his grandmother, and brave to his elderly neighbor. However, the family doesn’t acknowledge these labels for him but keeps him stuck in an identity they’ve defined.
Our job is to locate and mobilize strengths, helping the family to outgrow constraining patterns of personal interaction.
Often, couples come to therapy because they feel stuck in a cycle they can’t change. In an effort to get our emotional needs met, each of us adopts unconscious patterns of thought and behavior. Sometimes, particularly if we feel our needs have not been met, we adopt patterns that are counterproductive, fostering the very dynamic we seek to avoid.
During therapy, each partner becomes aware of his or her own habits and assumptions. Within the session, partners gain practice in making different, healthier decisions. Each partner is asked to risk being vulnerable, even for a moment at a time. If that can happen within the therapeutic setting, and each partner’s vulnerability is accepted and respected, we can start to break the cycle of painful entrenchment.
Those moments of intimacy and insight can be extremely powerful in and of themselves. Real change happens, however, as those moments are repeated throughout the week between sessions. Peter helps each partner develop the skills necessary to practice vulnerability and acceptance between sessions, and helps troubleshoot the issues that arise when old habits resurface.
Over time, couples in therapy build new, healthier, and more sustainable habits. Interaction by interaction, couples rebuild that deep emotional bond so crucial to both the success of the relationship and the wellbeing of each partner.
Our work with your child will focus on responding to, and helping you respond to, your child’s unique needs, emotions, and behaviors. This will often include sessions with your child, contact with each of his or her caregivers, as well as connecting with other important adults in your child’s life to gain a holistic understanding of his or her strengths and challenges. We believe strongly in collaborating with parents and caregivers in order to provide the greatest support possible. You are an essential component of your child’s therapy. As appropriate, we may invite you to join a session with your child, bring other family members to a session, or recommend a family meeting or ongoing family sessions.
Therapy with children between the ages of 6 – 12 will often involve play, art, storytelling, games, and other expressive modalities. For children, toys are their words and play is their language. Play, used in a therapeutic setting, provides children the opportunity to externalize their inner thoughts, feelings, worries, and questions in a way that they can witnessed and understood.
Without ways to express and externalize thoughts and feelings, children often end up communicating with the adults in their lives the only way they know how, through their behavior. While these behaviors may be your child’s best attempt to cope with and navigate difficult things in their life, they may also limit your child’s ability to thrive and may cause new challenges and problems for him or her in the future.
Utilizing a combination of non-directive and directive play therapy practices, mindfulness skills, and expressive modalities, we will work with you and your child to find new ways of understanding his or her emotions and navigating challenges.
Steeped in the Internal Family Systems approach, our individual therapy work is person-centered. Instead of seeing people as inherently flawed, and instead of defining people by their mental health diagnoses, we believe that people already have the ability to identify and change their own problematic behaviors. Sometimes, you just need a little help finding and using the resources you possess.
Each of us is composed of many parts, each of which plays a specific role. It’s like having an entire family inside your head, each of which has its own ideas about how to respond to the large and small things that come up in your day to day life. It can get overwhelming. In emotionally charged situations, you can start to feel flooded, controlled by your emotions or closed off from them entirely. Yet underneath the chaos is the Self, the calm, centered, confident you that has the power to use each part skillfully and navigate life as you want to live it.
We use a simple, warm, and optimistic model to help you access the Self. Through gentle curiosity, compassion, and skillful exploration of your story, we help you understand and validate each part. In the process, you become a more Self-led individual, making active choices rather than reacting to the situations at hand. This model builds on your successes: In our sessions, we ask what has gone well and how we can foster more wins, rather than dwelling on how to fix what hasn’t gone as you’d like.
Learn more about the Internal Family Systems model.