Are you a parent concerned with the behavior of your teen or adult child? Do you and your spouse feel like you’re divided instead of being a united front?
Or perhaps you’re an adult child seeking support in setting boundaries & new expectations with your parents?
Is your family going through a “normal” life transition and struggling to adjust?
Or, is your family dealing with trauma, mental health, substance use issues, or a different significant challenge?
Family dynamics can be complicated, and parenting at times can feel overwhelming.
If you’re a parent of teens, you might be feeling stress, frustration or sadness by:
- Your teen acting defiant, hostile or even threatening (ex. refusing to follow your house and even school and societal rules, using substances, and possibly even being abusive toward others and/or property).
- Your teen acting irresponsibly (ex. hiding out in their room and on technology 24-7, refusing to do chores, underachieving at school)
- Your teen struggling with mental health issues such as depression or anxiety.
- Your desire to be close again with your child, but your teen is individuating (separating) and striving to become their own unique person.
If you’re a parent of an adult child, you might be feeling burdened by:
- Your adult child who is struggling to launch (not in school or working, unwilling to fulfill other adult responsibilities- paying bills and doing chores, refusing to receive help for substance use or other addictions and/or mental health issues, etc.)
- Or, you might be feeling lost as you transition to the “empty nest” stage. Many parents need both a place to grieve their loss and receive support in launching themselves toward a new purpose (after their child leaves home) and developing a more connected and deeply intimate marriage.
- You might also be experiencing difficulties in adjusting to your relationship with your adult children, which might include sibling rivalry, conflicts with in-laws and/or discrepant views on parenting your grandchildren.
Ideally, our family is a place where we truly feel “at home” to be our authentic self, where we experience unconditional love, belonging, and respect, and where we can support one another in the day to day duties of living together as well as our dreams, goals, and the greater struggles we will all face at times.
Our family is also ideally a place of harmony where we can respectfully communicate, resolve conflict, and overall appreciate one another and live in synchronicity.
The reality is that, in spite of our best efforts and the love we pour into our family, ALL families go through tough times and experience challenges.
The good news is that, in my 20+ years of experience with teens and families, I have consistently found that both teens/adult children and parents typically desire similar things- to have a positive, respectful relationship, to be loved, and to know they can count on one another.
If substance use, mental health, or other issues have hijacked your relationship & your young adult’s life, there is still hope!
Family therapy is a safe place where everyone can calmly express their needs and with the help of an effective and compassionate family therapist, unhealthy dynamics can transform, and your family can enjoy being together once again.
And even if your teen/young adult refuses to attend therapy, by your participation in couples therapy just for parents, you can learn how to “raise the bottom” for him/her, which will motivate your young adult to receive professional help or change his/her behavior on their own.
Get unstuck~ Understand your dynamic and focus on solutions
“The power of family therapy derives from bringing parents and children together to transform their interactions… problems are addressed at their source” (Nichols, 2009). Whether you wish to improve the relationships in your family or help your child with an area of life in which they are struggling, you will be empowered to be part of the solution from the beginning.
Parents, I want to assure you that I do not use shaming or blaming in family therapy.
I am a parent too! I believe that you deserve the utmost respect and compassion, in addition to effective methods and new ideas for how to help your child. I have a saying, “You can’t take all the credit if your children are doing well nor can you take all the blame if they’re struggling.”
I also have twenty years of working with children (mostly teens and young adults) and their parents (as a therapist, teacher, school social worker, and 504/special education coordinator). Thus, I have seen many times how presenting issues that seem to simply reside in one person (ex. a teen hiding out in his room or smoking weed or cutting her arms) often are connected with a larger dynamic or part of a family pattern or struggle that is beyond one person. Thus, the solution often involves including other family members who can express to their loved one, “I’m worried about you, and I’m willing to participate in therapy and even change if it will help you. That’s what families are for. We support one another.”
When you’re in the middle of family conflict or have a child demonstrating challenging behavior, you’re often too close to understand the dynamics at play. This is where a family therapist can help.
When I meet with your family, I will do an assessment, elicit everyone’s ideas of the problem and solutions, and encourage you to speak directly with one another in session (& possibly even re-enact an argument) so I can observe your dynamic. By engaging you in this thorough process, we can collaboratively develop new perspectives and ideas for solutions, which often can only initially come from an individual outside the family who has studied the field of family therapy.
Even the best families have challenges. Thus, you can benefit at times from getting an outside perspective.
Strength-based, hands-on (& practical) family therapy can help your family endure anything
Your family’s strengths or the parts of your relationship and lives that are going well will be honored. In the business of life, sometimes we forget to express appreciation and acknowledge the areas of our family life for which we have gratitude. I will elicit your family’s strengths and resources in helping you reach your goals. When families are open to engaging in experiential (hands on) therapy (including art, drama, and sandtray), you can progress much more quickly in clarifying the real problems (underlie the presenting issue) and brainstorm new solutions. Expressive arts exercises also give family members of all ages a way to express themselves. You will likely even enjoy your sessions!
Wherever you are in your family’s life cycle, I can help you build a secure attachment and healthy connection that endures anything. I can also help your family heal and come back together again if you have experienced a trauma, loss, or significant change. If there is love, a willingness to repair hurt, and an openness to having courageous conversations about what every family member needs in their relationship, there is hope.
Become a relationship hero today
“Family dysfunction rolls down from generation to generation like a fire in the woods burning everything in its path until one person has the courage to turn and face the flames. That person [you!] brings peace to their ancestors and spares the children.” – Terrence Real
My mission is~ to empower you to create the family you wish to have and in the process become a relationship hero!
I am considering family therapy, but I still have a few concerns/questions…
If my teen/adult child has the problem, can’t you just meet with him/her?
I definitely meet with teens/adult children by themselves to give them a safe space to openly process a challenge they’re working through. As a former school social worker and many years as an adolescent and family counselor, I have a lot of experience providing individual therapy and a natural affinity with teens.
What drew me to becoming a family therapist is that I am even more passionate about facilitating stronger connections between parents and children because your love and caring is far more important than my rapport with your child. I also want to empower you as the parent to increase your toolbox for effectively supporting your teen since you will be your child’s “go to” person the rest of their life. Finally, when I meet with an entire family (siblings too), I am consistently amazed at the depth and speed that healing can occur when everyone’s honest perspective and love can be expressed.
I should be able to figure this out without help. I am the parent after all.
No one has all of the answers in life. Even professional athletes, musicians, and CEO’s seek coaching to continually move forward in their career. We all can grow and improve in our roles and this humility is a gift we can pass on to our children. While I honor parents’ devotion, expertise, and wisdom and will collaborate with you throughout this process, I know as a parent and having worked with K-12 age youth and their parents for twenty years that we all need help sometimes. When we’re in the middle of a struggle, we don’t have the insightful perspective that an outsider can have looking in at the whole picture. I will support you in reaching the goals your family identifies by sharing this perspective and coaching you to make the changes you wish to see.
I’m worried that I won’t be able to find the time or the money for family therapy.
I imagine you’re already balancing several different roles and responsibilities, and just getting your children to school on time and to even one after school activity along with work, home, and other priorities is an accomplishment! I want therapy to be accessible and thus offer appointments three evenings a week at my south Lakewood office, in addition to online therapy. And because money shouldn’t be an obstacle to healing and strengthening your most important relationships, I offer a sliding scale (when needed), a bill you can submit for reimbursement to your insurance company, and referrals for more affordable services. While family therapy is an investment, the rewards can be experienced the rest of your life.
Next steps…toward bringing your family back together again
Whether you’re interested in an in person session or online session~
Simply contact me for a free 15 minute individual phone consultation or a 20 minute couples or family Zoom consultation. You can conveniently schedule your consultation on my on-line calendar or call Lana Isaacson, LCSW, CAS, Certificate in Marriage and Family Therapy at 720.939.2189