By Terri A. Ammirati, LCPC
Family Counseling: A Safe Place For All
When your family isn’t able to connect and communication breaks down or conflict mounts, it can lead you to feel like you lost a part of yourself. But that doesn’t mean that part of you has to stay lost. With the guidance and support of an experienced family therapist, you can learn how to bridge the gap that has opened up between you and other members of your family, and learn how to foster effective ways to communicate and to rebuild the trust.
Having a safe space where each family member can share their story without fear of judgment is an important first step in your healing journey together. Therefore, we approach every individual and family with acceptance and compassion. Family therapy isn’t about pointing out what’s wrong with your family or telling you how to live. Rather, our goal is to help you see what’s not working and provide options and direction so you can find the best path forward for your family’s unique needs.
During our first few sessions, we’ll explore patterns in your family that may be keeping you stuck. Your therapist will listen to everyone with acceptance and understanding. Each family member can share how they see the problem from their perspective, how it is affecting them, and what they hope to accomplish from the family therapy sessions. Taking time to understand each other’s perspective or position helps to set reasonable and realistic goals. At its core, family therapy is about working with the family as a whole. However, depending on the reasons you are seeking therapy, the structure of each session may differ from week to week depending on the goals that were set together.
In the beginning of our work together, your therapist will observe how different family members talk to each other to understand what is breaking down and to help facilitate respectful, effective communication. As you practice communication skills in a safe, structured therapeutic setting, you will rebuild trust by learning to listen to what the other person is saying (or is trying to say) instead of avoiding the conversation or responding defensively, which often leads to each member not feeling heard or understood.
Family systems are constantly evolving, and there is no “right way” to raise a family. To that end, your therapist will adapt to your specific goals to ensure you receive tailored support, skills, and resources.
We’ll start by addressing the most distressing issues affecting your family’s well-being so you can approach long-term solutions with greater confidence. From there, we’ll provide practical skills and resources attuned to your family’s unique needs, whether you’re looking for practical communication tools, increased awareness, insight regarding what each of you needs from one another, or local resources that will be valuable for community support. Our goal is to restore a meaningful connection within the family so the family can be a place where there is safety and respect.
In addition to our solution-focused approach to marriage and family counseling, we draw from a variety of other approaches shown to help families heal wounds and overcome conflict. Existential therapy focuses on the here and now, so you can enter every session knowing that your immediate needs will be heard and addressed. And narrative therapy can help you share your story and understand what you can do to control that narrative. As you learn to define your goals, recognize your strengths, and share your perspective with other family members, you can rewrite your story and come together to focus on all the things you do well as a family.
At Ammirati Counseling, we have been helping families recognize and overcome conflict for over 25 years. With our guidance and support, you can learn to recognize your inner strengths and make small changes that preserve your family’s identity while helping the whole family system work better.