When I am working with court ordered couples I often start with a tool called Heartmath or heart rate variability biofeedback.
While the name may sound rather complicated, it is a very simple process to learn which gives folks a quick, feel good, and profound success to hang their hats on.
I usually have them learn the process individually and then come together and work on their Heartmath at the same time, while holding hands so that they get to see that their relationship, and by extension, their family has a heart beat separate from their individual heart beats, and that relationship heart beat can be attended to, must be attended to, almost all the time, and that the thoughts of either partner can move the relationship into coherence or incoherence on any given heart beat.
The Heartmath tool is based on recent discoveries in a brand new field called neurocardiology, or the study of the heart's own nervous system. Your heart has neurons in it, and those neurons can learn and make decisions independently of any other brain you have.
One of the things your heart can learn is coherence, which means that the time between heart beats is very coherent and when that happens, you feel good. Of course, all it takes is one thought about a late bill, and you are again incoherent.
The Heartmath process is done at a computer, and the biofeedback is displayed on a computer screen, and clients are amazed at how quickly their thoughts impact their physiology.
Heartmath is a wonderful metaphor for family counseling and in Rockford, there is one Heartmath provider, Mike Logan, M.S., yours truly, Ask Mike the Counselor2, so if you want to try out an extraordinary tool, give me a shout at 815-484-0946 to schedule an appointment.
If your children are getting ready to take the ISAT's or the ACT or SAT, Heartmath opens up the higher perceptual centers of the brain, and facilitates a higher score.
Want to work on the inner game of golf? Many pros have incorporated Heartmath into their practice regimen.
Once the folks in the family have gotten a sense of the Heartmath process, we can move into family counseling Rockford style.
Family counseling often occurs with all members of the family unit present.
Part of the goal of the counselor is to observe interactions between family members. Another part is to observe the perception of non-interacting family members. Thus if two family members get into an argument in a session, the therapist might want to know how the other family members are dealing with the disagreement or the way in which the two fighting members comport themselves.
In addition to observation, the therapist often helps the family reflect on better ways of communicating with each other. So family counseling may in part be instruction and encouragement. In fact, family counseling often teaches family members new and more positive ways to communicate to replace old, negative communication patterns. Those patterns might include how to do "I" statements, reflective listening, and assertive communications, which can be fun to play with, when the kids and the parents make it playful.
A family counseling session might include instruction about how fast we respond to non-verbal communications such as facial expressions. The work of Paul Ekman,Ph.D. is excellent in that regard. Ekman says that we can respond physiologically to an expression of contempt in 1/25th second which is about two times as fast as we can blink. Not much time to implement your reflective listening skills.
Observations may also be used to point out how poor communication, especially when filled with strife, affects the behavior and happiness of children. Children benefit from the safe forum of a session, and they function best with stability and consistency in the household. In family counseling, they may get to discuss the things they don’t like about the behavior of caregivers and/or siblings. Such discussion might not be permitted in the home setting.
As in group counseling, the therapist also acts as moderator in family counseling. He or she attempts to ensure that each family member gets fair time for expressing concerns and contributing to the conversation as to how the family can do better.
The personal issues of one member of a family may affect all other family members.
While a family member with a bipolar chemistry may want to be a better parent, but may be physically unable to change radical mood swings without a combination of individual therapy and medication.
Family counseling may not take a long time to complete. Often families benefit from four to five sessions. Sometimes families require more help and might need 20-30 sessions to resolve significant or ongoing family issues.
For families, family counseling often helps because it involves a disinterested third party who does not favor any one member of the family. This is generally why a therapist for one family member will not agree to be a family counselor for the client’s family. Display of partiality can render family counseling ineffective.
When I was beginning my personal growth journey, a wise person told me that when I was feeling resentful or afraid or sad, that I should remember the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was ready to feel better. That phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share what you are most grateful for? Your story could be just what another person is searching for to renew themselves? Thanks.
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