I have sought extra training in relationship therapy through the Relational Life Institute, the Gottman Institute, and the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP), among other programs. I once worked as a consultant in the couples’ communication workshops put on by the PREP program at the University of Denver, where this program was developed. I find that couples can help one another with their individual growth, as well as improving their relationship. For this reason, I ask each member of the couple to be open to working on his or her own issues that may be getting in the way of better relational behaviors and connection.
When one member of the family is struggling with a difficult situation or destructive behavior or thought patterns, the entire family is affected. Conversely, the family often plays a role in or contributes to each member’s struggles and solutions to problems. Just about all of us can point to maladaptive behavior and interactions in our families-of-origin. Some of these we can effectively deal with or even laugh about, but sometimes problems in a family can be more difficult to overcome and can affect family members in more negative ways. In family therapy sessions, I work with each member to understand their perspectives and feelings about what goes on in the family and help each member to understand their effect on the rest of the family. Sometimes, this alone is enough to create change in a family, and sometimes further intervention is needed. I generally find that family members are able to interact with one another in therapy sessions in ways they have not been able to before, and this often creates change.
Despite parents’ attempts to understand, deal with, and help their children, the problems children and adolescents present can be difficult for parents to resolve or help their children to resolve. Sometimes, children and adolescents need a neutral person who is outside of their family and has some expertise in child/adolescent issues to help them. Such therapy can involve play, artwork, or simply talking, while incorporating interventions or exploration designed to address the problems.
Therapy with adults can involve exploration of the problem issue, the development of tools or new ways of managing symptoms or negative thoughts and behaviors, the implementation of interventions designed to address the root of the problem and create change, and the maintenance of new patterns and ways of functioning in the person’s life. The length of time a person is involved in therapy depends on the nature of the problem and how thoroughly he or she wishes to address their problems. Dr. Bresnick takes a collaborative approach to working with her clients. She discusses goals, expectations, and the issues to be the focus of therapy with each client. These items can be reviewed and revised at any time, if the client chooses.
Reintegration Therapy (or Reunification Therapy) is a type of therapy involving a family in which one parent is estranged from or rejected by a child or in which the parent has been absent from the child’s life for a long period of time. This therapy is designed to build, or rebuild, the relationship between the parent and child and to establish contact between them. Reintegration therapy is usually court-ordered or agreed upon by parents who are divorcing or are divorced.
The first step is for all members of the family to have an individual intake session with Dr. Bresnick and for Dr. Bresnick to review any relevant court documents. Next, Dr. Bresnick will determine how to proceed, whether that be individual sessions with particular family members or joint sessions among family members. The pace of therapy will vary depending on the issues and individuals involved. In some cases, interaction between the parent and child may progress quickly, but in other cases the establishment of such contact can be lengthier. It should be noted that a reintegration therapist cannot make parenting time decisions or recommendations. The therapist can give an opinion as to what the child might be ready for, but it is ultimately up to the court, if the parents cannot reach an agreement, as to what parenting time will be or when it will start or resume.
Parenting Plan Consultations are provided to parents who are either currently involved in the divorce process and need some help in developing a parenting plan that meets the needs of their child(ren) or parents who already have a parenting plan that they are trying to adjust to meet the changing needs of their child(ren). These consultations are designed to help parents sort through the important issues related to the decisions they need to make about their and their child(ren)’s futures. This consultation involves only the parents and sometimes the child(ren), so it is non-adversarial. Parents are assisted in understanding the developmental and unique needs of their child, understanding the perspectives and positions of the other parent and the child(ren), and considering the various options available.
Co-Parenting with Respect (CPR) is an after-divorce class for co-parents involved in a difficult or high-conflict divorce situation. CPR allows parents and step-parents the opportunity to come together (in the same room and at the same time) with a trained professional to learn and practice new skills that will improve their co-parenting. Dr. Bresnick is a co-founder of the CPR program and has been working with parents for years to help improve co-parent relationships and the outcomes for their children. Learn more at www.coparentingwithrespect.com
Other Evaluative Services
…such as parental responsibilities evaluations.