A Simple Tool To Reconnect

Mary Smith walked into the office of the Marriage & Family Therapist resolved to maintain her dignity. She would not cry; she would not allow herself to be put on the defensive, and most of all, she did not want to point fingers. She knew that being blaming never got anywhere. She just wanted some answers. Her husband, Simon, reluctantly came with her. He didn’t see the need for this and Mary had had a hard time explaining her reasoning to him. She had told him she was unhappy and she could see that he was stressed, too. Simon had argued with her that neither of them was crazy and “What else do you go to a shrink for?” Mary had tried to couch the reason for the appointment in terms of happiness: “Of course we’re not crazy,” she said, “I don’t think that’s why people go for help. They just go for help because they need it.” Mary exhaled a long sigh. Their conversations were so exasperating. When would they ever be on the same page? In spite of her bravery and her resolutions, Mary was nervous as she sat waiting for their turn to go into the therapist’s office. Here, they would be sharing their personal and private lives with a total stranger. Did the stranger know enough to help them? Did the stranger have the wisdom and experience to read between the lines? Would the stranger make them feel guilty for the occasional mean remark that one or the other might have made? Would they really get the help they so badly needed? The therapist greeted...

What You Need to Know about Psychotherapy Approaches

On December 2, 2012, I spoke at a parenting conference to a pretty good-sized audience given that it was only a month after Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. After the panel of therapists was finished with small breakout sessions, a sampling of them met for a Q & A from the audience. I was one of them. The audience had some good questions. I was more interested in hearing how my fellow therapists were answering those questions than in giving my own answers. However, a question arose to which I could not resist responding. The questioner wanted to know how to decide which type of psychotherapy approach to use in therapy for his child. I explained that family therapy, as opposed to psychology, operates on the principle that people are not sick and don’t have “diseases.” Therefore, taking his child to a family therapist would have the advantage of not placing a stigma on the child or the family. Furthermore, I was ready to add that he and his wife would be given effective tools to use with their child. No sooner had the first words left my mouth then the moderator, a psychiatrist, cut me off. Standing at the podium and speaking with passion, he told the story of a person who went to family therapy without success because that person had an undiagnosed medical condition. “So,” he concluded, “it is better to go to a psychologist or medical professional.” Until that moment, I had no idea that other psychotherapists felt threatened by family therapists. Talk about a learning experience! It now seems to me that giving readers...
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