Family Therapy in Berkeley, CA

Family Therapy in Berkeley, CA

“We all hold on to some image of the family we want, based one way or another on the family we had. Lots of people are thrilled about the families they came from, others couldn’t get away fast enough. Most fall into that vast middle ground: great affection mixed with a few ideas for improvement.”

Paul Reiser, “Familyhood”

Family Therapy at The Berkeley Institute

family therpay image from berkeley instituteFamily therapy at the The Berkeley Institute is more than a statement about how many people are in the room. It is a way of thinking about how human problems develop, and about how best to solve them. In family therapy, the family is considered the basic unit of emotional development, with its own emotional inheritance and its own life cycle, along with its own attitudes, expectations, secrets, labels, and loaded issues. Family therapy invites us all to be much more curious about the bigger picture of our lives.


Families often function like a mobile hanging over a child’s crib. Tapping one piece of the mobile causes the other pieces to twist or vibrate in response until the structure has been brought back into equilibrium. Like the metaphor of the mobile, families often unknowingly perpetuate their own problems by reinforcing them in order to maintain status quo. Change, even positive change, is difficult and individuals as part of the family system get stuck in painful patterns of interaction. No matter what or who the “identified” problem is, family therapy views the difficulty as in some way impacting everyone, and invites everyone to look at their part in keeping the difficulties going, as well as to help in the solution. No one is to blame, but everyone is responsible. An acting out adolescent may be providing a common focus and distraction for parents who are anxious about addressing other issues in their own lives. Parents may pretend their children are not growing up and leaving home, or that their own parents are not dying when they are. When energies that have unknowingly gone into maintaining the problem are freed up to find creative solutions, families can provide us with something steady, reliable, and safe in a confusing world.

Who we are related to in the complex web of family ties is a given in this life, but when we act as though family relationships are irrelevant or disposable, we do so to the detriment of our own sense of identity, and the richness of our emotional and social well-being.

Family Therapy Session at The Berkeley Institute

Family therapy sessions at The Berkeley Institute often are most useful when all members are present, but this is not always necessarily advisable or even possible. In some cases the best course may be to work with certain members of the family for a period of time, and later to involve others as appropriate. Sometimes periodic family sessions with a sibling or parent may be very useful to someone in individual therapy who is struggling with a particular relationship or needs additional support or perspective that only another member of the family can provide.

Contact us at The Berkeley Institute for Behavioral Health and Psychological Services in Berkeley, CA for more information about a family therapy consultation with you or your family.

The Berkeley Institute provides Family Therapy services to:

Berkeley, Oakland, Albany, El Cerrito, Piedmont, Emeryville, Orinda, Alameda, San Leandro, Hayward, Walnut Creek, Richmond, El Sobrante, San Pablo, LaFayette, San Rafael, San Francisco, Tiburon, Sausalito and surrounding areas. There are people from additional communities we serve in Northern California within our office in person.  We also provide services to people via electronic media.   Skype seems to be best but phone and IM’ing can also be effective.  It is  best to have had contact in person at the beginning of services and where possible a mixture of in person and face to face treatment via modern communication technology.  We can work effectively with many individuals anywhere that people are served by the internet.  Such services are supported by a growing number of studies and increasingly favorable laws across the USA.


family therapy, family counseling, individual therapy

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