Copyright 2017 © Bel-Michele DeMille, Ph.D. All rights reserved.
In family therapy, I work with every mode of family and most issues. I am very sensitive, especially to the often-neglected effects of divorce of older parents on their adult children. I see step/blended families in transition, as well as those who struggle with intimacy, connection, ineffective communication, and parental struggle.
I use a combination of problem solving, insight, role modeling, role playing, and mirroring techniques. I try to help family members become more aware and empathic so they can better understand one another. I guide them while they practice clear expressions of feelings without criticizing one another. They learn to use active listening, accurate reflection, and respect, with the goal of understanding each other and solving the conflicts that are causing them stress and alienation.
Sometimes, parents will seek guidance to help them through a phase of their child’s development. Parents then establish a relationship with me whereby they can periodically seek my counsel and support through any confusing patch. I help them to sort out the issues and make better decisions about how they can beneficially support their child’s development and growth.
In my view, the three most important predictors of a good relationship are:
How willing is each to please the other?
How well has the couple worked out a system by which to solve conflict?
How committed to change are they?
During initial hour-long sessions, each person’s view of the issues creating the dissatisfaction in the relationship is assessed. The couple's abilities to communicate (verbalizing and listening) and to clarify expectations, strengths, and needs are all focuses of treatment. I also specialize with couples where one party (or both parties) has ADHD whose cognitive style impacts on the relationship. Specialized systems are devised based on the individuals’ life style. Furthermore, an appreciation of the creativity and contributions that ADHD can have to the relationship is developed.
I see couples before marriage who want to enhance their communication, greater self-awareness, and deeper emotional understanding of their partner. I help them address issues that include, but are not limited to, money, sex, child rearing, religion, family, friends, and monogamy. By confronting issues before the marriage, and learning new ways to deal with them, they set a tone in their relationship that they are committed to solve anything that may arise. Greater intimacy usually develops and becomes a stronger foundation for their future.