Dr. Judith D. Bertoia, Registered Psychologist, Registered Play Therapist - Supervisor

Family Therapy

I work with families who are having difficulties dealing with each otherís behavior, are having communication challenges, or are adjusting to new circumstances or significant events.

Because there is little formal training in how to be an effective parent, many people rely on parenting skills based on repeating patterns learned through personal childhood experiences. Particularly in times of distress, people tend to resort either to what was experienced as a child or to its opposite.

In my view the family is a system of interconnected and interdependent individuals, a system that is frequently subjected to change. How the system responds to change determines the level of contentment or distress the individuals experience, and to the degree of harmony they experience within the whole system. It is my belief that each member, and the family unit as a whole, has the innate capacity and resources to adapt, grow, and develop positive, loving and supportive attitudes and behaviors. Part of my task is to nurture a blend of acceptance, compassion, understanding, insight, tolerance, empathy, potential, and hope within family members. With these emotional strengths individual family members find it easier to recognize and trust the things they have in common, that connect them, and the differences that help them grow.

How the family evolves and accommodates the continuing growth and change of each of its members may be as beautiful as a symphony in harmony with life. Or it may be a desperate struggle immutably sculpted in pain and self-survival, that develops into a dysfunctional family system.
— Virginia Satir

When I meet with a family I usually begin with the whole nuclear family. From time to time significant extended family members, or members of both homes in bi-nuclear families, are also invited. As therapy proceeds it is common to work with various subgroups such as the parents, parents with one child, two children, or a parent-and-child combination. However, even when I am meeting with a subset, I always conceptualize those members who are present within the larger family context.

Through a combination of verbal, written, and other therapeutic activities we work to uncover the power dynamics within the family, communication patterns, temperamental differences, roles and expectations, breakdowns between intentions and actions, misperceptions, and conflict resolution styles. We look at how family members communicate, how the family is organized, how it works out daily interactions. Our focus is on love, self-esteem, healthy communication, and recognizing and reinforcing positive, effective patterns of interaction. We assume change will continue in the familyís life and work with a future orientation for managing that change so each member feels loved, supported and able to achieve desired potentials.

The answers lie within. The challenge is listening to their wisdom and then creating change.

The family system is perhaps the most influential of all systems.
— Virginia Satir

In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.
— Albert Einstein

No one comes from the earth like grass. We come like trees. We all have roots.
— Maya Angelou