Families and intimate relationships are an essential part of who we are and our sense of satisfaction in life. They can provide us with a sense of belonging and safety. Our sense of purpose and meaning in life can be also intricately interwoven within these emotionally close relationships. As important as they are to most of us, emotionally close relationships are sometimes rife with challenges. When tension and negativity builds over time in close relationships, the very people who are supposed to love and care for us tax us emotionally; and they may even decrease our ability to function.
Dr. Park-Adams offers psychotherapy that is informed by Bowen Family Systems theory. Having practiced within an individually-oriented psychotherapy framework for many years, she recognizes the tremendous value of being able to understand relationships as systems. Family members are not a random collection of individuals. In other words, important relationship systems have their own dynamics that are greater than the sum of individuals involved. Understanding how family members are like chess pieces, where changes occurring in one member significantly affect the others is one of the central ideas of family systems theory. This is true even when an individual does not maintain close contact with his or her family members.
Individualized: Knowledge of the general processes that govern all families can be valuable. It is also essential to recognize the factors that contribute to their variations. Examples of some of those factors are: family constellations, unique environmental challenges and special strengths or weaknesses. Common environmental challenges can include life transition issues such as job stresses, economic hardships, frequent moves, and loss of key family members. Psychotherapy is an inherently individualized process as no two individuals struggle with the exactly the same environmental challenges.
Comprehensive: Dr. Park-Adams conceptualizes emotional and behavioral problems in individuals by examining how an individual may be challenged by the process occurring within their close relationships. Such a comprehensive conceptualization is one of the most useful steps toward addressing the problem. Having the whole family or the couple in psychotherapy office is not necessary nor is it always useful. She works with individuals while keeping all the important players in the relationship system in mind.
Collaborative: Dr. Park-Adams sees herself as having expertise in knowing the general principles about ways of understanding individuals within the context of their important relationships. However, she emphasizes a strong collaborative relationship with her clients because she sees them as experts in themselves and their family. She believes that many people are doing the best that they can, given that they have limited internal and external resources. Psychotherapy can help working toward increasing internal resources by rendering emotional support while helping navigate the tough spots in life.