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People are driven to therapy or counseling when unusual stress handicaps their ability to cope and find joy in their daily life. They are denied meaningful intimate relationships, effective work relationships, and lack inner peace or self-sufficiency. They are plagued with doubts, physical and emotional symptoms, and a questionable self-confidence.
My experience with Relationship Counseling is grounded in the theory of Family Systems Therapy that grew out of the 1950’s work of Salvadore Minuchin, Jay Haley, and The Palo Alto Group. As a Marriage and Family Therapist I view the person in relationship with both him or herself as well as with others, following a set of expected structures and processes. One reason that an individual or couple is either functional or dysfunctional relates to the capacity of adaptation to life’s stressors.
Families pass through predictable developmental stages, each of which contains an inherent loss or gain of a family member, each of which holds the potential for crisis and symptom formation for every individual as the family regroups, as well as opportunities for creative change and growth. There are roughly twelve stages.
THE FAMILY LIFE PROGRESSION
1. Young adults become emotionally and financially independent from their family of origin.
2. They find partners, fall in love, marry, and switch their loyalty from their original families to each other, forming a new family.
3. They have their first child.
4. Their first child goes off to kindergarten.
5. Their children reach adolescence.
6. Their last child goes off to college.
7. The couple learns to deal with the empty nest and with each other again.
8. The couple confronts middle age, menopause, career changes, dealing with their aging and dying parents, and planning for retirement.
9. Children get married and leave the family.
10. The first grandchild is born.
11. The couple deals with retirement, old age, and financial changes.
12. Each person deals with their own and mate’s death, related illnesses, or disabilities.
Each stage in the Family Life Progression, including the process of getting married, is inherently defined as a crisis. Change creates upheaval regardless of whether the alteration is positive or negative or whether a family member is gained or lost. Each person in the family experiences large measures of stress, confusion, and emotional upset during any life cycle change. Each individual, and the group as a whole, needs to accommodate itself to the new configuration. The successful resolution of each stage allows family members to remain on course as they move through their own personal development. When the adaptation is unresolved, dysfunction can occur in later life. With the right kind of therapy, the previously trapped flow of energy can be released.
Relationship Therapy also addresses issues of boundaries, power, and communications. In healthy individuals, couples and families boundaries are clear and flexible. In healthy systems there is a sharing of power among the adults who develop a teamship. In healthy systems people develop good communication and goal-setting skills to assist them in moving through life smoothly. With the right kind of therapy, the obstacles to healthy boundaries, power balance and communication are removed, and new skills are learned.
Dr. Rita Bigel-Casher enables individuals and couples to identify dysfunctional patterns, strengthen compassionate communication, set meaningful goals, and develop problem-solving skills. She draws upon her wealth of experience and the best of the great thinkers and healers from the fields of Family Therapy, Trauma/Loss Therapy, Experiential Psychology, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Holistic Therapy, Hypnotherapy, and Eastern Philosophy.