Family Counseling is an important aspect of home based psychotherapy in that family (however you define family) participation is a necessary ingredient in helping a child to consistently engage in the targeted behavior.
Family goals are another important aspect to home based psychotherapy.
I selected the aforesaid quote as I believe it summarizes an families’ pursuit of obtaining their goals. At times, our goals can seem so far away, like the sun, and like the sun, it can also light our path assisting us in achieving them.
Other times, our perception can be different. Some families that I provide family counseling to identify goals that they believe they may never reach. It is important to first clarify the goal itself versus a means to achieving the goal.
For example, I was providing family counseling to a 16 year old male diagnosed with Intermittent Explosive Disorder who told me that his goal was to engage in illegal activities and make “real” money…
Paraphrasing, I asked the individual, “How much money is real money?” along with, “What would do with real money once you had it, would you just look at it?” He explained that he would more or less provide for his family. Then I asked him, “How long would you like to provide for your family?” He stated, “As long as I can, I mean like years…”
I further asked, “What is the career length of individuals who engage in the illegal activities you want to engage in?” He replied, “Not long…” I said, “It sounds like your “real” goal is providing for your family and your means to achieving your goal (engaging in illegal activities) may need some adjustments to provide for them for years… How about we take a look at some alternative ways to make “real” money to provide for your family for years…”
The individual’s reply was simple, “You have a point, Ok.”
Over time, that individual obtained a form of employment that did not make “real” money but could provide for his family very well. I am still in contact with this individual from time to time and he informed me recently that although he may not currently make “real” money, he can appreciate what he does and now have aspirations for something greater, believes in himself, and looks forward to what the future holds...
Once your goals are well established, no matter how high they seem, you can begin adding the “necessary ingredients” in achieving them. Having sky-high goals can also be a great motivator that can lead you well beyond your current situation.
What do have to lose?
In another example of confusing goals and a means to achieving goals, I was providing family counseling to a family and their 9 year old nonverbal son diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The family verbalized needing assistance with their son's behavior in the home as he will engage in a temper tantrum and become aggressive when he does not get his needs met immediately.
Additionally, the family was in need of family counseling regarding co-parenting strategies since their recent divorce.
The father stated, "I really don’t believe in this kind of stuff (that psychotherapy will work with my son), how can you really help..,” “I really just want a babysitter and really don’t have time to sit in your session with him, I work full time...”
I replied, "Well I agree with you in that I wouldn't want a service either that didn't align with my goals but I am having a hard time understanding what you believe psychotherapy will do for your child or the family that does not align with your goals..."
He stated, "You plan on talking to him right, he's nonverbal, how do you expect him to communicate with you?" I replied, "So if I am understanding you correctly, just because your son is nonverbal, you do not believe he communicates? I have to ask, how does he get his needs met such as eating and drinking?"
He replied, "I'm not saying that... For the most part, he points and makes noises." I asked, "Do you understand him well enough to satisfy his needs?" "Yes" he replied. I further asked, "Ok, so would it be safe to say that your son has the ability to communicate his needs?"
"I guess so" he replied. I stated, "So the idea that psychotherapy would not work with your son is not based on fact as you have clear evidence that your son does communicate (at least enough to get his needs met)."
I added, "It appears to me that both your goals and the idea that psychotherapy can help you in achieving those goals are not clearly established. In other words, there may be an unintentional confusion of your goal and a means to achieving your goal..."
I then asked, "Is a babysitter or refusing to participate in sessions a necessary ingredient in achieving the family goals?" "Probably not" he replied. I stated, "So let me share some things with you to really help you and your family achieve your goals..."
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