Family therapy is a crucial component for young adults and teens as they move through the treatment process here at Potomac Pathways. Often times as one person in a family system makes changes there is a direct effect on the relationships and interactions within their living environment. Rebuilding trust and connection within a family is hard work and providing a safe environment to have these difficult conversations is key to learning the necessary skills to improve on those relationships.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a training with Alan Fruzzetti, Ph.D. specifically on using the DBT model to help families work together to achieve treatment goals. Throughout the training it was so clear to me how applicable DBT can be not only for our clients, but also for families. Alan discussed the importance of the transaction that takes place in relationships; and two major components that contribute to dysfunction within relationships are inaccurate expression and an invalidating response. It can be difficult at times to express what we think and how we feel when our emotions are intense and overpowering, and in these moments, it is hard to be attentive to the relationships we have with others. We each have the responsibility to work on being more accurate with our words and expressions; and it is also true that being validated in these difficult moments can help us along the way to accurate expression.
One of our main goals for treatment is centered around helping families learn specific DBT skills to manage intense emotions (by using distress tolerance and emotion regulation skills), to better articulate their thoughts and concerns in a non-judgmental way (by using mindfulness and interpersonal effectiveness skills) in order to improve communication while also teaching validation skills to maintain connection. Being able to utilize mindfulness when talking means being in a moment with someone else and focusing on both what they are saying and how we are sharing our own thoughts. By utilizing language to observe and describe our own experience, we are able to move ourselves away from our own judgments to a more objective perspective which ultimately helps us to become clearer in our expressions. When this occurs not only do we have an opportunity to feel more confident in our own expression, but we also have an opportunity to strengthen our relationship with others. When we are mindful in a moment, and truly hear what others are saying we have the ability to see the situation from their perspective, which allows us to be more understanding and validating. As clients and families commit to making changes, we as a treatment program work to provide you with skills that will make the journey worthwhile.
Erin Reddinger, LMSW has a Master's degree in Social Work from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She has worked with families and adolescents for several years, and has provided therapy in a variety of settings including in-home, residential, and day treatment programs. Prior to joining Potomac Pathways Erin worked in a residential setting for at-risk youth and their families utilizing DBT as the primary mode of treatment. Erin has training in Functional Family Therapy, Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Erin is originally from Western New York and enjoys spending time visiting family and friends, exploring the DC area, walking her dog, reading, and traveling.