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Our Family Program

Family Therapy is a form of mental health counseling primarily intended to help family members better understand one another and how to communicate more effectively. It is guided by a trained psychotherapist or licensed clinical social worker.

Many, if not most, of the problems treated using family therapy are exacerbated or caused by communication problems. Emotions often run high, even if they mostly stay beneath the surface at times. Intense emotions can make it harder to empathize or hear the other person’s perspective until we learn to manage them.

Family therapy focuses on personal interactions and the dynamics involved. It is usually short-term: exploring patterns, identifying conflicts, and focusing on specific goals. Developing better communication in the family system opens doors toward resolving even long-standing resentments and complex conflicts.

Some key elements of Sylvia Brafman’s Family program include:

We hope you embrace the opportunity to accelerate the healing for your loved one by becoming part of the solution.Contact us today to get your family on a positive track to wellness and start your family’s healing journey together.

The “Crown Jewel”

We refer to our Family Program as the “Crown Jewel” of Sylvia Brafman, as it is truly unique and a critical part of our center and is incorporated into our Partial Hospitalization (PHP) and Intensive Outpatient (IOP) programs and is available to alumni long after they discharge from treatment.

Family involvement is a non-negotiable for us. When the patient comes into treatment, the family enters a “virtual wing” of Sylvia Brafman. We understand that levels of involvement and participation vary per family, and ensure that the approach to healing the family unit is practical and intentional. However, the research and our experience confirms that greater levels of family involvement yield better outcomes. Family members, moreover, often begin their own journeys of growth and healing once exposed to the therapeutic environment.

Weekly Family Night
With Ben Brafman

Chief Clinical Officer Ben takes a deep dive into the family dynamic to weed out patterns and ways of thinking that must be confronted. Our weekly family night occurs in the evening between 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm. This is an intensive session with families in treatment alongside their counterparts.

Alumni often come back for these sessions, which are powerful and revealing. Out of town families can join via Zoom.

Family Therapy Sessions

Family therapy sessions help break down communication barriers, establish understanding, and facilitate recovery and healing for the patient and their loved ones. Ben Brafman is actively involved in facilitating these sessions, and our Primary Therapists facilitate additional touchpoints. Please see below for a more robust description of our process as it relates to treating the family.

Family Retreats and Bi-Annual Family Weekends

In addition to Family Night, we host weekend family retreats throughout the year, typically between Thursday – Sunday. We arrange accommodations, and the family is prepared for an intensive weekend often filled with tears, breakthroughs, and significant progress in determining the path forward. We employ therapeutic principles of family re-enactment, written letters, motivational interviewing, and other clinical measures. The goal is to build skills including active listening, parenting guidance, spousal guidance, boundary setting, and role identification vs. role confusion.

What to Expect From a Family Therapy?

Family therapy goals often include:

  • Improving communication within the family
  • Leveraging the family’s existing strengths & resources
  • Exploring and discovering how family members interact with one another
  • Helping family members develop and practice better problem-solving skills
  • Educating family members about the mental health disorder(s) (psychoeducation)

Here’s a basic overview of how a family therapy plan unfolds:

Initial Intake

This occurs in the first meeting, during which the therapist will discuss the issues that have prompted the family to seek therapy with the patient. The therapist will allow each family member to express themselves as to what they feel are the main issues they or the family is facing and why.

Assessment Phase

The therapist will gather information to better understand the family system and how it functions. He or she will explore details such as family history, parenting and discipline approaches, family roles, and coping skills used. The therapist will develop an understanding of the problems faced by the family and what it has been dealing with, together and individually.

The family may be given homework assignments, such as to think and write about who has the power in the family unit and how decisions are made. Family members are often asked to list certain coping skills and brainstorm whether they have succeeded in past or continue to be effective within your family.

Mapping The Family Structure

A therapist might create a map that explains the family’s hierarchy if the therapist uses a structural approach. The map may help show how authority and boundaries work inside your family. In many cases, they may change over time.

Creating a Treatment Plan

We are focused on solving problems versus assigning blame. Patients and therapists, working together, will likely develop and discuss a measurable plan that showcases what was worked on in therapy. It will outline important skills learned through participation in therapy, such as changes in unhealthy communication and problem-solving techniques. It will also potentially include benchmarks and reminders, portraying your family’s special strengths and how to make them benefit your family moving forward.


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