New York family therapists love family therapy
Therapists who offer family counseling love family counseling. And often, those who aren’t family therapists find the idea of family counseling terrifying. Ironically this is often for the same reasons. Families are tough. If you’ve spent time in one, it’s like that you get that very well.
New York’s family identity: A different conception of family therapy
As the so-called culture wars make clear, us New Yorkers (I practice psychotherapy in NYC), with our liberal, tree-hugging, latte-drinking, therapy-going sensibilities relate to family somewhat differently than the so-called red states, and my hunch is, that has impacted the way New Yorker’s view family therapy.
The evocation of “family” in public discourse is so closely associated with conservative values as to make the two nearly synonymous. Consider “family values” or the notion of someone or some place being “family-oriented.” That tends to be a stand-in for Christian, pro-life, social conservatism.
Family therapy in much of the country is certainly more popular than is family therapy in New York and similar regions. I’d like to argue, however, that family therapy has perhaps done a poor job of making itself appealing to New York families.
A new conception of family therapy with NYC families in mind
Mom and dad aren’t married but have been together for over 30 years and are seeking family therapy to work on how stuck their families relationship has become.
Dad and dad were together for 10 years, adopted a child and just got married last year. They sought out family therapy for help with parenting challenges as their son becomes older.
Mom and mom have an open relationship, aren’t legally married, but live together with their two children and come to family counseling once a month to get help with the various challenges that come up in their complicated family life.
Partner A and partner B have been dating seriously and are considering moving in together along with her 15 year old daughter. They are seeking family therapy for help structuring a process of coming together that will help deal with the speed bumps they see ahead.
Adult brother, sister, mom and step dad are fighting and brother and mom haven’t spoken in months.
Mom and dad and their two sons are seeking help to deal with the older son’s Aspergers diagnosis and challenges in working together as a family as he’s getting older.
Mom and dad are getting divorced and struggling with how to co-parent their two young children.
Eight-year old son is getting in trouble in school and the family wants to work together to look at how their collective functioning may be contributing to his behavior problems.
“Marriage and family therapy”
You may be surprised to know that there is a graduate degree and New York State category of psychotherapy license called Marriage and Family Therapist. Further still, you may be surprised that by and large LMFT’s (as they’re called–Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists) don’t limit the scope of their practice to couples counseling and family therapy. LMFT’s do couples therapy and family therapy, but often work with individuals and groups just as any other class of therapists do. In New York, there’s a certain insecurity among marriage and family therapists about the name of their discipline–both because the name implies that they only provide couples counseling and family therapy, but also because the concept of marriage therapy implies a sort of conservatism–after all, a therapist who works with romantic partners in NYC is unlikely to limit his or her couples therapy practice to those who are married. This is New York. It’s just not that relevant.
That said, in other parts of the country you can bet that Marriage and Family Therapists do indeed limit their practice to married couples, making the “marriage therapy” label quite apt.