Discovering family strengths to make positive changes

Family Counselling

Today a young couple in their twenties, Jody and Byron sit expectantly in my office cluttered, with plants and books. They are here today because their oldest son, six hear old Dylan is having trouble sitting in school and has been hitting his classmates. The Principal has requested he attend half days only. This couple has spent many hours looking for supports and taking their son to various doctor’s appointments. Their nerves are shot with worry over their child’s behavior. Lately the stress has caused a rift between Jody and Byron and they’ve been arguing over how to parent their son but also bickering over everything.

I explain that today is an intake day where I’ll tell them about what they can expect from the family counselling program. The program is ten sessions long and I’ll help them understand a little more about how stress is impacting their relationship and how together we will find ways to create a new approach to their problems so they feel calmer and on the same page with regards to parenting Dylan. This will include understanding a little better what’s happening for Dylan, some coping and parenting strategies to help them with their stress as well as lessening the sting of their emotional triggers.

As the couple fill out their Strengths Questionnaire, I think back to a single mother, Deidre who just finished her counseling sessions here at Options. Together we explored her feelings of anger towards her daughter’s behavior using cognitive behavioural therapy and we looked at how her thoughts and feelings were impacting her behavior. During our ten sessions, between our laughs and tears, we completed exercises that helped Deidre understand how her interpretation of her child’s behaviour was causing her to overreact. Deidre thanked me today and explained how she felt so relieved to not be flying off the handle anymore. “I hope I never see you again,” she jokes as she walks down the hall to the elevator. I smile to myself thinking about Deidre’s success. Would this new couple experience the same success? I hoped so.

In my mind’s eye I see my current clients pass before me and I wonder, is there a common theme? I see fourteen year old Hannah, a teen in her tenth foster home getting ready to return home and be reunited with her mom, younger sister and grandfather. I see Rick, an overweight but bright and charming twelve year old who struggles with self-esteem. I see Grace who says she feels numb inside and worries how this will affect her granddaughter who has come to live with her. There is a family recovering from the death of their father and a mother and daughter who both suffer from anxiety. I see a dark eyed woman in her thirties coming in to work through the impact of abuse she experienced as a child.

 As a family therapist at Options I look for each person’s strengths and work from a strength based approach to improve the lives of each of my clients. Their issues may vary but the overall approach remains the same: discover strengths and use them to help people move past their current challenges to make positive changes in their lives.

…I look for each person’s strengths and work from a strength based approach to improve the lives of each of my clients.

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