Do you ever feel like your family is falling apart?
Are you struggling in your connection with a parent and/or child?
Have the dynamics of your family changed in a way that is problematic?
A Family is an Intricate System
Families are our first connection. They are an integral part of our development as humans. It is from and to whom we share our most fragile moments and our deepest connections.
There are some that believe that there is no such thing as the individual. That we are inexorably part of a system at all times, shaped by fluid interactions within these systems, then larger systems, extended family, community, and more.
That said, it is important to recognize that families look different; they come in all shapes and sizes. While there might be a traditional nuclear family of a mom, dad, and two children, another family might be two married gay people with two children, each one the biological children of each parent. The combinations and permutations are diverse and by no means should limit the accessibility to treatment.
Families, come in all shapes and sizes. All individuals and relationships are welcome . . . couples, polyamorous relationships, cisgender, transgender, and non-binary individuals and people who identify as heterosexual and LGBTQA.
When Family Therapy is Indicated
Family therapy is typically indicated where there is conflict within the family or when one member has become identified with an issue, such as explosive outbursts, eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, and more. Further, when there are issues or ‘acting-out’ in a child, this is usually endemic of something going on within the family system that is misaligned. It is the purpose of treatment to realign the connections and create safety to do so.
Transitions are another time in the life of a family that might benefit from help. These ‘moments’ might include major life changes such as divorce, re-marriage or blended families of various kinds, a launching teen, relocation, physical and/or mental illness, business and/or school failure, and addiction in one or more members. At this moment, there is a shift to the system, and there are often nuances and patterns that distract or prohibit the change and inhibit the growth.
Presenting issues might include, but is not limited to, when present in one or more members of a family:
- Failure to launch
- Acting out in a teen/adult child
- Family Trauma
- Grief and Loss
- Substance Abuse and Process Addictions
- Eating Disorders
- Mood Disorders
- Behavioral Disorders
- Challenges at Family Milestones
- Marital Dissolution-Divorce
- Step-parenting and Family Re-organization: Blended Families
Family Therapy with Adult Children
Family therapy is not just for families with small children or teens but for individuals with adult children. It is also for families, for whatever reason, where parents and children do not live in the same home for whatever reason. Given that Dr. Winter’s practice is primarily teens and adults, this is a particular area of focus. If you are needing family therapy with small children she is happy to make a referral.
How does Family Counseling work?
Family therapy is enormously effective at getting at the root cause, not the symptom, of the client’s struggle. The aim is to harness the strength of the existing resources within each of the family members, who, particularly the parents, learn that they already have the inner resources to repair breaks within the system.
Family therapy, like other forms of treatment, requires an assessment process. This process requires meetings with various dyads and triads or ‘sub-groups’ that occur within the family group. These might include but are not limited to the parents, siblings, and, in some cases, other significant others.
Initial Family sessions are two hours, longer than you might have anticipated. It is during this time that the initial assessment is made via interviews with various dyads and triads.
What Happens if Not all Family Members agree to Participate?
This is more than prevalent in families presenting for treatment. Therapy is often driven by one party, sometimes two. Ultimately, it is advisable for all members to participate but it is not mandatory. Further, there might be instances in which it is not advisable for a member to attend or they might be unavailable to attend. Family therapy can be done with some of the family members. Within the attachment frame of EFFT for Families, so too can deep change be made within the individual. At other times, the unwilling partner will be ready to join the process.
What Is the Process of Family Counseling?
EMOTIONALLY FOCUSED FAMILY THERAPY – EFFT
Having a background in object relations and attachment theory and having trained with outstanding trainers and world renound experts in the EFFT protocol including Gail Palmer MSW, Lisa-Palmer Olsen PsyD, George Faller LMFT and Jim Furrow PhD, which places Dr. Barbara Winter in an excellent position to help families across the globe.
Dr. Winter brings a unique blending of over 30 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families in Boca Raton and the surrounding areas. She is the only psychologist in Florida that is a sexologist, is EFT trained, and holds certifications in discernment counseling, sex addiction, EMDR, group therapy, hypnosis, and telehealth. She is available and willing to help you learn a new way of being, end your current family the way it is, or simply modify it to have a new way of relating. It is her mission to help you achieve “emotional, sexual, and spiritual health.”
Dr. Winter will take into consideration your special circumstances including your physical distance, and make an appointment (in time and duration) suitable to your needs.
We Want to Get Started . . What Are the Best Options?
There are various ways in which family therapy can be structured. Most families who are local to South Florida opt for the standard intake (2 hrs). This is followed by separate assessment sessions for each person and various dyads, triads, and more in which attachment patterns and trauma histories are extracted. Further work is done in the family system with the entire family together.
For families who present a challenge due to physical distance, there is an option to do an intensive structured exclusively for you.
For those families who travel from out of the South Florida area or simply want to jumpstart their journey to mending and restoring their emotional health, there are families intensives available, structured to your needs. Family intensives differ from a family workshop in that these are private therapy sessions just for the family. In-depth work offered in a family intensive provides the opportunity for accelerated progress not otherwise offered in the traditional weekly format. Further, taking a ‘time out’ from daily life really allows you the space in which to be present and heal. Typically these entail a two to three-day weekend format and can be tailored to your needs. Please contact the office to discuss your unique scheduling needs.
You can read more on the intensives offered by Dr. Barbara Winter here.
What Stops you from Taking Steps to Repair Your Family?
“One or more members of our family are unable or refuse to attend.” . . . As I stated, regardless of what others choose—living in conflict and/or detachment, should not be an option. Unfortunately for many it often is. Feeling helpless and powerless to achieve any movement towards growth is not uncommon since the dance of connection takes at least two. Addressing the issues alone can often get you out of the impasse you are in.
“We have tried mediation, why would this work?” . . . Family counseling is not mediation. It is not a place to attend to ensure that you are wrong and someone else is right, despite your list of established grievances. Nevertheless, it is a place to really listen to the pain of others and be heard. Healing the attachment bonds is a critical prerequisite to having healthy relationships.
“We tried already and got nowhere.” . . . Not all therapists nor models of therapy are equal. Emotionally Focused Family Therapy hones in on the fragile bond and connection that is mandatory to a healthy relationship and healthy family dynamic. Healing attachment wounds within the context of these relationships is a critical step towards repair.