Family Program

The “Crown Jewel” of Sylvia Brafman

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What Exactly is Family Therapy?

Family Therapy is a form of mental health counseling primarily intended to help family members resolve conflicts as well as improve communication and understanding. Guided by a trained psychotherapist or licensed clinical social worker, family members learn to better understand one another and how to communicate more effectively.

Many, if not most, of the problems that families come to family therapy to solve are exasperated by communication problems, if not entirely caused by them. Emotions run high in most families, even if they mostly stay underneath 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 therapy that explores patterns, identifies conflicts, and focuses on specific goals. Developing better ways of communicating in your family system will open doors towards resolving even long-standing resentments and complex conflicts.

We often refer to our Family Program as the “Crown Jewel” of Sylvia Brafman, as it is truly unique and a critical part of our treatment program

  • Weekly Family Night with Ben Brafman
  • Family Therapy
  • Weekly Touchpoints with Primary Therapist
  • Bi-Annual Family Weekends

The Sylvia Brafman Family Program

A core part of the Sylvia Brafman experience is our Family Program, which is incorporated into both PHP and IOP. Family involvement is a non-negotiable for us; we like to say that when the patient comes intro treatment, so does the family. 

The family system gets sick along with the patient. Ben Brafman takes a deep dive into the family dynamic to weed out patterns and ways of thinking that need to be confronted. Some core features of SBMHC’s Family Support include:

Weekly Family Night with Ben Brafman

The family system gets sick along with the patient. Ben Brafman takes a deep dive into the family dynamic to weed out patterns and ways of thinking that need to be confronted. Our weekly family night occurs on Thursday nights between 5:30pm – 8pm. This is an intensive session with all families going through treatment alongside other families and their respective patients. Alumni often come back for these sessions, which are extremely powerful and revealing. Families who are not local are able to join via Zoom.

Family Therapy Sessions

A core part of the Sylvia Brafman experience is our Family Program, which is incorporated into both PHP and IOP. Family involvement is a non-negotiable for us; we like to say that when the patient comes intro treatment, so does the family. Family therapy sessions help break down barriers to communication, establish new understanding and facilitate recovery and healing for both the patient and their loved ones.

Family Retreats and Bi-Annual Family Weekends

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

If your therapist decides to take a more of a strategic approach to Family therapy, they may have you talk about how the problem which brought you into therapy serves as a specific function within your family dynamic.

What to Expect From a Family Therapy Session?

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

In the first meeting, the therapist will discuss with the patient the issues that have prompted the family to seek therapy.

The therapist will give each family member an opportunity to express themselves as to what they feel are the main issues they or the family is facing and why.

Assessment

For the following sessions, a 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 & Discipline Approaches
  • Family Roles
  • 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 contemplate and write about who has the power in the family unit and how decisions are made.
Family members are often asked to make a list of certain coping skills and brainstorm on whether or not they have been successful overall, or if they even still work within your family.

Mapping The Family Structure

A therapist might create a map that explains your family’s hierarchy if your therapist uses a structural approach. The map may be helpful in showing how authority and boundaries work inside your family. In many cases, they may be changing over a period of time.

Creating a Treatment Plan

Solving problems versus assigning blame is more aligned with what Family Therapists are interested in doing.

You and your therapist, by working together, will likely develop and discuss a plan that is measurable and 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 shine even furthermore for your collective family’s benefit.

Training & Education of Family Therapists

Mental health care professionals who have been specially trained in psychotherapy for family systems or couples are the ones who are qualified to be Family Therapists. They also generally have advanced degrees (master’s or Ph.D.) focused on marriage and/or family therapy or the health care field.

In order to become state-licensed, they must complete a supervised clinical fellowship (usually two years) in order to be a Marriage and/or Family Therapist. Those who have a master’s degree must also take an exam conducted by the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards, which is a licensure exam, which must be completed. Those with a PhDs must take a licensing exam conducted by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board that must be completed

Exploring More About the Family Dynamic at Sylvia Brafman

At The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center we strongly believe participation in family therapy provides tremendous rewards. Even if the entire family cannot participate, any family involvement in the overall treatment plan and healing process is welcomed. The more involved the family can be, the better the outcome for the patient. More than this, family members often begin their own journeys of growth and healing as a result of exposure to the therapeutic environment.

The SBMHC family therapy experience is truly worth exploring. We believe under Ben Brafman’s guidance, we have one of the finest family therapy programs in the country. We hope you embrace the opportunity to accelerate the healing for your loved one by becoming part of the solution. Most participants find personal growth and new insights that help them in new and unexpected ways as a result. Contact us today at Sylvia Brafman to get your family on a positive track to wellness and start your family’s healing journey together.

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