Systemic psychotherapy is a type of psychotherapy focusing specially on relationships. These can be our immediate relationships - parents, family, friends, work colleagues, partners - but also the wider cultural, community and religious aspects of our lives. The quality of these relationships affects all aspects of our wellbeing, and especially our psychological and emotional health.
Systemic psychotherapists who are members of the College for Family, Couple and Systemic Therapy, can work with teams, families, couples or individuals of all ages, including young children. They are often called family or couple psychotherapists.
For people who prefer to be seen on a 1:1 basis, systemic therapy may help a person to understand and manage relationships. It may help them to recognise the effect these relationships have on their own sense of themselves, on their sense of worth, on their wellbeing, and enable them to move on with their lives.
My systemic approach is integrative, incorporating different collaborative therapeutic styles in order to create an effective and safe therapeutic alliance and, where appropriate, challenging in order to expose what might be keeping things stuck for people.
By working together, we might develop an understanding of how your life experiences, health events and relationships may be influencing your thoughts, feelings, behaviours and the ways in which you feel able to get along with others, do intimacy, relate or ask/decline the support of important people. Working through these issues and stories may help you to be more in charge of your life, ameliorate and help cope with negative symptoms and problems, create meaning in your life and develop more stable relationships.
Couple therapy can help couples of whichever marital status or sexual orientation resolve difficulties and improve communication. It can also help them manage infidelity, separation, divorce, life cycle transitions, or just provide a neutral place to discuss any dificulty you would like to work through safely.
When working with couples, I draw from systemic and narrative ideas, as well as researched models such as Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples, and the Exeter Model of Couple Therapy.
As a family therapist I am trained to work with more than one person in the room with the aim of helping a couple or people in a family understand one another better. Family therapy helps family members to express and explore difficult feelings and thoughts safely, in order to understand each other's experiences and perspectives, a shared understanding which can then facilitate positive changes in their relationships. According to the UKCP, Family Therapy can help families when, for example: a) they are feeling overwhelmed, sad and angry; b) they are not sure of what to do for the best; c) they feel stuck in repeating patterns of hurtful or harmful behaviour.
When working with families, systemic therapists take into consideration that families come in all shapes and sizes beyond the traditional notion of nuclear family (e.g. extended families, adoptive and foster families, transnational families, families of choice) but they also recognise that there are differing ideas about what makes a well-functioning family.
WHO IS SYSTEMIC PSYCHOTHERAPY FOR?
WHAT HAPPENS AND HOW LONG DOES THERAPY LAST?
Systemic psychotherapy is mainly a talking therapy but sometimes therapists will use non-verbal activities, including play with younger children, drawing, writing or some action techniques. Should you feel comfortable, I may use some of these ways of working in addition to talking, family trees and genograms.
The approach I take is primarily determined by the problems affecting you, and how you prefer to work. I also takes into account research and clinical evidence when deciding how to 'go on' and will regularly ask for feedback. This is an important aspect of therapy which has been linked with better outcomes for clients.
Couple and family sessions are generally held 2-3 weeks. Depending on the issues and the circumstances at hand, some sessions will involve teh whole family but other sessions might just have one or two members present. I aim to work in an open and collaborative manner and in response to the client's goals and wishes.
How long does it last?
Sessions last around 60 minutes. A course of psychotherapy may vary in length depending on the issue and how much time you are able to put into it; in some cases a couple of consultations may be enough, other times the work may develop over a longer period of time. your feedback will be sought frequently to ensure we are focusing on the things that are important for you.