It should come as no surprise to learn that, when a child needs therapy, it is likely not a singly defined issue that only involves the child. A child is a part of a ‘village.’ More importantly, they are part of a family that forms the ‘nucleus’ of their world. Their family influences their viewpoints, and teaches them how to behave in various social settings – whether knowingly or not.
For this reason, family therapy services in North Vancouver are available at my office to both enhance child therapy effectiveness, or as a start to your therapy plan. I not only help your child with play therapy, but can help your family with talk therapy, family play therapy and filial play therapy.
Through these professional therapy methods, our hope is that you’ll collectively find closure on the issues that are creating disturbances in your relationships. We can use multiple methods of therapy, as described below. The types or combinations of therapy choices can vary, and will be unique to your case after we have an initial consultation.
Filial play therapy: teaching you how to bond with your child
Filial play therapy is the process whereby a family therapist teaches you foundational play therapy techniques to conduct with your child. The idea here is that if you can connect with your child and begin to understand what they are ‘telling’ you through play habits, you’ll be able to form a stronger relationship with them.
After all, communication and understanding can be said to form the foundation of any healthy relationship. Helping your child attach to you through play, during their younger years, can also inoculate against parent-child friction during the teen years, or even earlier.
What happens in filial play therapy?
We will start by having you and I in sessions alone. I’ll demonstrate and help you practice relational skills with your child. Eventually, your child will join in for 30-minute sessions where you’ll play together, while you take the reigns for more practice. I will be observing and making notes.
Thereafter, I’ll be able to further coach you on your filial play therapy skills. I’ll teach you how to make meaning of the play. The goal is to do this at home as much as possible, and not only in therapy sessions.
In my North Vancouver filial play therapy sessions, some of the skills you will learn are:
- How to communicate more care for your child with simple acts, like locking eye gaze more often.
- How to be an active listener, as well as good reflector of your child’s feelings, so they know they are being understood.
- How to show genuine interest in what your child does, and respond appropriately.
- How to empower your child to solve problems on their own, and to be confident in their own abilities to do so.
It may sound simple, but believe it or not, these skills take practice. As therapists, we can find that not many people employ them often enough. However, by modelling these methods, a parent can then instil proper relational behaviours in their child. This is helpful when it comes to their own relationship with you, and with others.
Family play therapy: helping your family learn to bond together
With family play therapy we use an engaging method to bring out the emotions that need to be addressed during these times. And of course, that method is play. Play can also encompass other expressive and creative means, such as art, music or storytelling.
What happens in family play therapy?
The first step is me meeting with you as the parent to prepare you for the play therapy process. We will use a specialized method of play therapy called Synergetic Play Therapy (SPT). Its benefits can be read about here.
Then, together as a family, with me as your therapist, we will draw together, play with dolls or action figures together, and maybe even make a song and dance together. But this is not just to have a good time!
There is a lot of meaning to glean from the dialogue and action brought out in these sessions. Through play and expressive means and under the guidance of the therapist, families ‘talk’ about their problems and how they can work together to solve them.
Who needs to come to family therapy? Do you mean ALL of us?
Depending on your case, the combination of family members we would ask to be in sessions can vary. If the problem is mainly with siblings, we would ask that they be in the room together to work through their relationship. And if extended family is available to support you, it might help to have them join in too.
The benefit of using play therapy in a family therapy setting is that play is the most natural language for children. If we want children to be interested in family therapy, we have to talk their language, and at their level. Even adults can find playful methods of doing therapy easier. Play is something we all do naturally, whether young or old.
If your children are older (usually over 12 years old), we also can use talk therapy in these sessions, or a mix of both. The way the session is carried out will depend on your unique family circumstance. We will discuss this before we begin a family treatment plan.
After attending regular filial play therapy or family play therapy sessions, you should begin to see outcomes among participants such as:
- Spending more time together, increasing the sense of intimacy and bonding.
- Lessening the number of times conflict ensues, and finding it easier to resolve conflict when it happens.
- Being able to manage anger (or other negative emotions) through coping mechanisms such as breathing deeply, re-evaluating thoughts about a situation, or finding other outlets to express one’s frustration.
- Having peace while living ‘everyday life,’ without the overarching burden of family stresses that may have ‘taken over’ your lives formerly. These stresses may not go away, but your ability to live through them at regulated moods should improve.
- Finding the communication process easier when engaging with family members, as well as encountering fewer misunderstandings.
Plus more. Since the human condition is so varied this list could go on…
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How many family counselling sessions will it take to solve our issues?
This is a good question. Therapy is a treatment that could theoretically go on forever. As life goes on, it’s inevitable changes can present new challenges. It’s like a game of whack-a-mole; when one problem is resolved, another one pops up. However, don’t lose hope. By resolving issues when they arise now, you can reduce the chances of future challenges hindering your relationships.
However, an initial family counselling plan (whether for filial play therapy or family play therapy) would start with 10 weekly sessions, each lasting about 1 hour. It will be crucial to not miss appointments in order to get the best effectiveness possible out of the treatment.
I would need to speak with you beforehand though, to get an idea of your family’s specific needs, as 10 sessions may not bring the results you are hoping for in some cases. Feel free to call me for an initial consultation: 604-700-4660.
How do I know if my family needs family counselling?
Also a great question. I’ve compiled a list of symptoms that may match your case. You can read about them here.
Engage with family counselling services in North Vancouver, and start working towards change
If any of the above resonates with you, it may be time to take action. I encourage you to get in touch. I’d be happy to offer you my family counselling services at my North Vancouver office.
Family counselling doesn’t have to come with the stigma that society can place on it (in case that idea is holding you back). It is a very practical approach to dealing with family issues, and finding a more peaceful way to process hurt feelings and reconnect.
Our family will never stop being our family, whether we like it or not. The best way to overcome our family issues is to unearth and solve any setbacks that may prevent us from enjoying our relationships with one another.
Contact me today by calling 604-700-4660 to set up an appointment. Or, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.