What approach do you use in therapy? What ideas guide your work?

Keren Chansky Suberri, Ph.D., ABPP

1) Parents Are The Best Experts On Their Own Children.

No matter how many hours a therapist spends with a child, parents will continue to be the best experts on their own children.  Parents are vital to the success of the work that is done inside and outside the therapy room.

 2) Goal-Oriented Work.

Clearly defined goals related to specific changes or specific behaviors are defined early on in the therapy process. The goals are planned to 
      bring about results that are meaningful to you. 

3) Strength-based Approach.

 I am interested in family members’ strengths, skills and past successes in dealing with challenges and adversity, including those strengths and resources that might be hidden or not easily noticeable. I actively look for what individuals and family members might already be doing that could contribute to the resolution of the problem that brought them in. 

2) Respect for Individual Differences.

Each parent and each child have their own set of experiences, ideas, values, hopes and goals. No one can represent one person’s ideas and hopes better than that person him or herself. Each family member’s values and ideas are important and critical to the work that is done inside and outside the therapy room. 

3) Collaboration Is Key.

The work we will do together involves working collaboratively toward a mutually agreed upon set of goals. Therapists, parents, teachers, health care professionals and youngsters are all experts with differing areas of expertise. Families and therapist, together, decide which people should be involved in setting up and working toward the therapy goals and how to benchmark progress. 

4) Future-Focused Work.

In this approach, the focus is on the future and what family members would like their individual and collective futures to be like.
The future is both created and changeable, but the past is not.
The work of this therapy is oriented towards changes that can be made in the immediate future. 

5) A Safe and Caring Experience. 

Each one of us spends time trying to make sense of our experiences and our lives. Many people do this successfully without the assistance of others. Some people have had experiences that seem to ‘stump’ them. For others, life has dealt them a very difficult hand of challenges or obstacles. In this therapy, we create a safe, caring context where people feel supported in their efforts to make sense of their lives and explore paths towards managing or changing their lives for the better. 

6) This is a Solution-Focused Brief Therapy.

  Brief is not a number that you can count, but an outlook or philosophy toward therapy. In Solution-Focused Therapy, individuals and therapist, together, decide at the end of each session, if a next session is needed or desired and if so, which family members will participate in it.

 “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it,” is a key component of the philosophy of this approach to therapy. Families will decide what “needs fixing” in their lives. Therapy ends when family members feel that they are managing well enough in their lives and when they believe their therapy goals have been met. 

7) Respect for Young People's Unique Stages of Life.

In our work together, we treat children as children, and not as “little adults”. Many children prefer to communicate through play and activity, rather than through "talk". Sessions with children are conducted with this in mind. Teenagers are treated as evolving young adults who are in the process of defining themselves as individuals in their own right. Childhood and adolescence are unique periods of life full of rapid growth and change. I am ever mindful of young people's needs.