Knowing Where to Tap: Using a Structural-Strategic Lens to Locate The Root Cause of a Family’s Trauma

There is an excellent story on the importance of knowing where to tap told by the late family therapist, Virginia Satir: After listening to the engineer’s description of the problems and asking a few questions, he went to the boiler room. He looked at the maze of twisting pipes, listened to the thump of the […]

Trauma Treatment with Impossible Cases: The Undercurrents Technique

What causes traumatized children and families to get stuck and unable to move forward? How can we change the outcome of impossible cases? Over a 30-year career in mental health, I’ve set forth to answer these questions. My personal quest began after my first major treatment failure when I received this message from a mother:  […]

Failure to Launch: The Safety Planning Technique

Failure to Launch describes young adults who are struggling with the transition to adulthood. They have an inability to leave home and support themselves. This trend is reaching epidemic proportions. For example, a recent study cited in Psychology Today reported that 45 percent of young adults in the state of New Jersey between the ages […]

A Family Systems Approach to Treating Intergenerational Trauma

When we think of creating family legacies and preserving family traditions, we focus on positive connections and joyous occasions. But often joy is only part of the family story. Pain, while often ignored or even denied, can be passed down from generation to generation. This legacy of pain, coined Intergenerational trauma (IGT) after World War […]

Preventing Relapse in Traumatized Families: The Troubleshooting Technique

Relapse occurs when our clients initially get worse before they get better. It is like stretching a rubber band that will snap back as soon as we let go. Over time, a child’s problem symptoms (i.e., self-harm, aggression, anxiety, extreme disrespect, etc.) that are caused by a traumatic event often become the new normal in […]

Healing Family Trauma: Two Families, One Tragedy

On July 19, 2018, an amphibious vehicle, known as a duck boat, encountered a thunderstorm during a sightseeing tour on Table Rock Lake, near Branson Missouri. The boat sank, killing 31 passengers. For many of us, the event was only a blip on our radar. However, the families involved are left with ongoing emotional and […]

The iFamily and its Link to Rising Teen Suicides: Causes and Solutions

For the first time in more than two decades, suicide is killing more teenagers than homicide. Teen suicide is on the rise. Time Magazine reports that anxiety and depression is skyrocketing with an estimated 30% of girls and 20% of boys (about 6.3 million teens) have reported anxiety disorders and three million teens ages 12 […]

America After a School Shooting: The Mindset Must Change

In the wake Parkland school shooting in February 2018, many stories focus on who to blame (more gun control, a broken mental health system, bad parenting, bad President, etc.) instead of how our mindset needs to change. Even Nikolas Cruz’s lawyer is jumping on the bandwagon as the central theme of his defense: Cruz’s lawyers […]

Why a Motivational Phone Call Before Trauma Treatment Begins Will Make All the Difference in the World?

An interesting phenomenon occurred in our Family Systems Trauma (FST) research. If we began trauma treatment using a FST- Motivational Phone Call, a “soft start-up” took place. If not, “harsh start-ups” occurred. Harsh start-ups happened when the FST therapists began treatment using a traditional start (a phone call to simply schedule the first appointment). Within […]

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