Setting: individual, couple or family?
Chosing to come to therapy as an individual rather than as a couple, or as a family might depend on the kind of the issue at stake, or on the disposition and/or the preference of those who are asking the consultation. More the situation is grievous, and more helpful would be to involve the family system, and, if possible, the social network. Usually family meetings are held by me and a co-therapist.
When is therapy advisable?
The first condition for psychotherapy is to feel the need for it. Generally speaking a psychotherapy work might be helpful in variuos situations, such as:
- existential distress and dissatisfaction
- relational problems or social withdrawal
- family conflicts
- emotional instability
- mental disorders and symptoms
...What other kinds of counseling?
Sometimes the need is not for a psychotherapy, but for different kind of consultation aimed to a specific goal. In particular I frequently receive requests for:
- Parenting support
- Process of gender affirmation
- Case supervision
The First Session
During the first session we meet and get acquainted: you explain to me why do you think you need counseling, I explain to you how I work, and we make a few hypothesis about the work we could do. We talk it through, and we try to understand your needs and how I could be helpful. We try to outline the situation, to put some context and define priorities. We try to name some goals to follow, possible resources to involve. Sometimes just one session is enough to give you some useful hints to go on by yourself, more often, especially if the goal is to menage some symptoms
symptoms (like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, disturbing thoughts, etc.) it is more like the beginning of a journey. During the first session, usually, we decide if it makes more sense to work in an individual setting, with the couple, or with the entire family how frequently we should meet, etc.
My Approach is Systemic and Dialogic
The first foundation of my practice is the systemic socio-constructivist approach, which considers people always within their relationships and their context. I assume that there are infinite points of view, which depend on one's position and belonging, on one's ideas acquired through various experiences, on the situation one is facing in his or her
her life, and on the communications in progress with others. This means that, if it is possible, working with the couple, with the family or with the social network can be of great help in seeking positive change, because it allows to activate the resources of the whole system of people involved: diverse points of view which multiply the opportunities for describing and understanding problems and solutions.
The second important reference of my work is the dialogic approach, inspired by the Finnish "open dialogue", which presupposes a profoundly equal relationship between the therapist and the patient, who remains the only true expert of his own life. The guiding idea of this
this way of doing therapy is a constant search for polyphony, that's to say the possibility of listening to all the voices involved: those around the person and those inside her. My role is to insert the voice of my professional experience and my skills within this multiplicity of voices, without taking away space from all the other voices that accompany my clients, trying instead to create the space so that the voices still unexpressed may be heard.
Family therapy does not necessarily mean working with people who have blood ties. A family is a group of individuals who feel as such, people who belong to each other: because they have the same last name and live in the same house or even just because they chose it, because they were crucial to each other at decisive moments. Regardless of their feelings for each other, members of a family live each other's lives in some way. Often, when there is conflict in the family, the resulting suffering and concerns accompany the individual outside the family as well. And when one member is sick, suffering
his or her suffering reverberates in the lives of the other family members, as in a web that connects them to each other.
To decide who to invite to a family therapy you can ask yourself: who in your relational system is most involved? who could contribute to improve the sitiation? who would you like to participate and would like to participate? The goal is to facilitate communication and reduce conflict, clarify mutual positions, activate a synergy of resources, and interrupt vicious communicative and relational circles. In a family session we take the time to open the conversation, allowing sometimes difficult questions to be answered with the help of a professional to ease tension and regulate emotions. The therapist helps family members look at themselves from the outside, making sense of relational dynamics. For these reasons, family therapy proves to be an effective intervention in most distressing situations, even being able to complement individual therapy.
Often, to ensure greater attunement to all involved, family therapy is co-led by two therapists. Moreover, the frequency is less than that of individual therapy, and it is possible to do even one meeting per month, depending on the need.