My Approach-Donut Theory
My approach is best described with a simple analogy.
*Think about what you can do with a donut?
You can eat it. You can squish it. You can break it into 20 pieces. You can let it dry out and paint it. You can let it melt in a cup of water. The possibilities go on and on and are only limited by your imagination.
What can you do with the empty hole in the middle of the donut? Nothing. It is just air.
I believe people are like the donut – there is an infinite number of things we can do with a person or family. The problems in our lives resemble the empty hole in the middle.
People are not problems. Focusing on problems gets your more problems. Focusing creatively on people gets incredible results.
I don’t focus on problems, I focus on the person and they stop hurting and start healing. It works!
I provide counselling for children, youth, families and adults from a family systems perspective in combination with a strength-based approach. I continue to integrate recent findings from the neurophysiology of brain development and from research on human development and attachment, into the therapy I provide.
I have a profound respect for the uniqueness of each family’s situation I adapt my approach to suit the needs of individual clients. I am committed to fostering the capacity of children, families and individual adults.
From a family systems perspective, each family member is seen as part of a dynamic set of interconnecting family relationships that shift and change as individual members grow. The larger social context, which includes friends, community and cultural background, is also considered. This casts a much wider frame around counselling, whether I am providing services for a family or an individual.
An individual’s ability to grow, develop and to change is profoundly influenced by their early experiences within a family, and by the larger community within which they live. Family systems requires that this context inform my counselling at every stage, whether it be to support parents in addressing the developmental needs of their children, to assist children or adults in processing an adverse experience that is standing in their way, or to aid a family group in resolving an ongoing conflict. The spillover effect from counseling, using this perspective, is that individual family members, and the family unit as a whole, becomes better equipped to manage future challenges on their own. Families become more resilient.
The strengths-based approach comes from the perspective of positive psychology. It asserts that each individual, whatever their circumstances, has strengths upon which they can draw. When problems become overwhelming, individuals and families may be unable to recognize or activate their capabilities. Working with a strength-based approach, I act as a catalyst, assisting the individual or family to reconnect with those strengths. The emphasis I place on skills and competencies, will reinforce a sense of personal accomplishment and contribute to more satisfying relationships. It will also enhance resiliency, which is the individual’s or family’s ability to cope with adversity. The strengths-based approach I use is empowering; it asserts that each individual has a unique ability to create positive change in their own lives.
Developments in neurophysiology and attachment
Brain imaging techniques developed in the 1990’s resulted in an explosion in neurophysiology; in our understanding of how our brains develop, and how they change. The most important finding for counselling has been that the human brain develops through interactive relationships with others. This has reinforced the central importance of parenthood.
Children are born with biological expectations that they will be fed, stimulated, soothed, cared for and kept safe. They form attachment relationships with a few adults (usually parents), to whom they turn consistently for comfort when they are hurt, ill or frightened.
Attachment and developmental neurophysiology started off as two separate disciplines, but they are intricately interconnected. One example: the child’s ability to regulate his or her feelings grows out of experiences of being effectively soothed by their parent. The developing ability to self-soothe relates to growth in a specific area of the brain, and can be clearly seen with brain imaging techniques.
Integrating knowledge from attachment and neurophysiological research into my practice as a therapist has been my task over the last decade.