What's Your Conflict Style?

Sculpting in Family Therapy and some Psychodrama

family therapy family therapy tools teens therapist tools Dec 12, 2022
family sculpting therapy, family sculpting

family sculpting therapy, family sculpting

If you're a clinician and working with a teen, you know that you're walking a fine line between wanting to help while respecting the relationship and building trust. One of the ways that you can do BOTH is by introducing various activities that are engaging to a teen and don't seem like 'therapy' while also providing a lot of information to you as the therapist. I think this activity is the best of both worlds in terms of understanding family dynamics and family relationships and building rapport in an exciting and engaging way. 

Perhaps you're a family therapist and want an effective tool, something different, exciting and interesting; the use of family sculpture is a must-read! - 

Family Sculpting: Your Secret Therapeutic Weapon.

Family sculpting therapy is a powerful tool that has been used by seasoned family therapists for decades. It is a type of therapy where the entire family comes together in a session to create 'art' from the various family members present. Typically, every member of the family depicts their idea of the family in the session or sessions after. As a family systems therapy technique, it is such an effective way for families to explore their relationships, gain insight into how they interact with each other, and come to terms with any past traumatic events or emotional wounds that may still be present.

Family sculpting is an invaluable tool for me and a powerful family experience. It provides an opportunity for all members to be heard and respected while also allowing for conflicts to be addressed in a constructive and safe environment. It can help members to understand each other better, as well as foster empathy and understanding between them. Additionally, it has been found to be one of the most effective tools for resolving long-standing issues, such as those caused by divorce or death. In fact, many studies have found that family sculpting therapy is an extremely effective approach to family therapy and is associated with improved outcomes among children in particular.

You can find out more about sculpting here - and get the free PDF

Building Rapport With Teenage Clients With Activities

Anything that you do that is UNLIKE what the teen is expecting from a traditional therapist they've heard about or seen on TV will go some way towards building rapport, especially if you don't make a big deal out of it. The activity in this video and post generates a huge amount of talking points, and I've only ever seen teens become more engaged as the session goes on - an indication that the therapeutic alliance is happening. 

 

The technique I called Family Portraits is a version of family sculpting, made famous by Virginia Satir, and the Palo Alto group. but was adapted by my team and me to be more practical during covid.

 

This video contains a better idea of sculpting, my guide to interpreting family sculptures, and then how to turn the family sculpture idea into the Family Portraits Activity, which is an efficient means of getting the same information without the help of family members if you're working with a teen individually.

 

You can find out more about sculpting here - and get the free PDF

 

Benefits of Family Sculpture.

 I think this sculpting exercise provides numerous benefits to both the family and therapist involved in the process.

One of the main benefits of family sculpting is that it allows all members of the family to be heard and respected while also providing a safe environment for any conflicts to be addressed. It allows the therapist to see the family structure and various family relations that might not be expressed verbally.

Another benefit of this technique is that it allows therapists to gain a greater understanding of the connections between family members and can highlight potential sources of family dysfunction. This can help therapists to identify better patterns of behavior and interactions, which can then be used to process and explore in treatment.

The Questions To Follow Up With

When you've made the Family Sculpture or The Family Portrait, you can process it by asking your teenage client questions like:

DISTANCE AND CLOSENESS 

  • Who is the furthest apart?
  • Who is the closest?

EYE CONTACT / DIRECTION

  • Who is making eye contact with who?
  • Who is facing each other?
  • Who is facing away from who?

HEIGHT

  • Encourage clients to stand on things or sit down on the floor - be creative, but also be curious as to why, who and what it represents.

 

THE BIG PICTURE

 

  • If you zoom out, what is the storytelling?
  • What do you feel when you look at the sculpture (I CANT BELIEVE I DIDN'T SAY THIS IN THE VIDEO - grrrr! Your countertransference is so useful here)
  • Is there a message being conveyed in the creation?

 

SYMMETRY

 

  • Is there anything worth commenting on with regards to spacing and distribution of ‘figures'
  • Are people closer together?
  • And other people further away?
  • Are they evenly spaced out?
  • Are they all together?

 

TOUCH / CONTACT

 

  • I'm curious about who's touching who and who isn't and why.

 

Building rapport with a teenage client in therapy can be challenging, but there are some strategies and techniques that may be helpful.

 

  • Be authentic and genuine. Teenagers can often sense when someone is not being genuine, so it's important to be authentic and transparent in your interactions with them.

  • Don't Go Head To Head: Validate the feelings, even if you don't agree with what the teen is saying.

  • Be a good listener and show you're listening: ask questions that demonstrate you are curious about every part of their life. "Who did you sit next to at lunch?" "Jenny? You've not mentioned her before; what's she like?" "What do you have in common with her?" etc

  • Use humor and playful banter. show that you're a real person who wants to be in relation with the teen, rather than just another adult in authority.

 

You can see some of the questions that I ask teens here in this video, and there's a course that contains a download of everything, plus more videos here

Learn more about conflict, family systems and growing great relationships

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Learn more about conflict, family systems and growing great relationships

My People Patterns shares the best tools, techniques and knowledge from aĀ family systems perspective - all aimed at helping you grow great relationships. Hit subscribe to learn more about our S.O.F.T approach to healthy connections.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.