Blog Postpost

Posted Thursday August, 10th 2023

Working with kids and parents together in therapy

In 25 years of working with kids and families, it continuously strikes me that therapists are apprehensive about working with kids and parents together in therapy. They feel like they can handle the parents OR the child, but not both. This is understandable; we're not taught the skills to manage them together in therapy. I even worked with one clinician who said she felt that it was dangerous because it brings up so many issues for people. Therapists are afraid the child will become dysregulated and act crazy or be oppositional and not respond, and the parents will get upset, angry, or hurt. This ends up making the therapist feel powerless, helpless and stupid. And it might even bring up feelings of our own past experiences where our parents were yelling at us or feelings of powerlessness as our parents yelled at other family members.

I've seen way too many children in families who have spent years in therapy that was really a waste of time because the parent and child were separate. The product of this situation ends up being a relationship between the child and the therapist with the parent sitting on the sideline

I designed my new book, Integrative Attachment Family Therapy, so that it shows how to structure family therapy from an attachment perspective. It explains how to prepare the parents and describes what elements should be in a family therapy session, including safety, play, joy, lighter moments, and also discusses hard subjects and conflict, but in a way that is structured and regulated.

The point of getting a parent and child to talk is not to resolve issues, but to facilitate a conversation between them so that the child feels heard and understood, and parents feel effective in their roles. That's the goal - connection. Being able to talk in a way that is calm and safe. That's what I brought into the book. It offers step by step guidance, but also highlights stories of what I've experienced over time. I am eager to know if you like it and find it useful, and what questions it brings up for you! I hope you find it useful.

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