Due to the recent surge in COVID-19, I am now offering online and tele-therapy options for all new and returning clients. Please contact me for more information or if you would like to schedule an appointment or consultation. Thank you!
In our sessions, I will never take sides or vilify anyone for their beliefs. Rather, the goal of counseling is to help your family gently confront uncomfortable subject matter through exploration, education, and training. Part of that process involves building a multicultural timeline that looks at factors like your age, religion, social class, gender, sexual orientation, or upbringing—anything that might inform your belief system. Similarly, we’ll ask questions, such as What was your family background like? What messages did you receive from your community or loved ones that impacted your identity? When did you first encounter adversity? Once everyone feels heard and we know where each person is coming from, we can start to plant seeds for alternative ways of thinking.
My approach to family counseling can help you navigate the sometimes confusing LGBTQ vernacular as well as the differences in gender, sex, and sexuality-related issues. Everyone can gain a clearer understanding of complex social concepts, like cultural competency, implicit bias, microaggression, and cultural humility. And we can explore the nature of intersectionality—or how gender, sexual orientation, and race represent succinct individual parts of a person’s overall identity. Over the course of 6 to 12 sessions, I’ll provide you with the education, skills, and language to facilitate productive conversations about very nuanced and sensitive subjects. If something particular comes up in our time together that requires deeper conversations or healing, we can consider additional family therapy sessions.
I know that loving someone and appreciating how truly wonderful they are can be difficult when a lack of knowledge and comprehension gets in the way. But political differences do not have to define your relationship with your loved ones. Believe it or not, people do change and it happens all the time. I am certain that it is possible to gain a better understanding of where your loved one’s pain comes from and, in the process, reconcile seemingly unfixable differences.
Political stress in families can create overwhelming discord and challenges that can be nearly impossible to manage alone. You may be at a loss because the consistent acts of microaggression, exclusivity, or bias seem so natural or innocent that you dare not raise a stink about these attitudes. If you do, the other person is likely going to feel attacked because, ultimately, neither of you has the language to talk about things peacefully. And even when you educate yourself on the subject and try to approach the conversation logically, the other person may dig in, reacting as if their ideals are being threatened.
As a therapist, coach, and corporate inclusivity and diversity consultant, I know just how divisive personal, political, and cultural differences can be—especially in a family dynamic. But you don’t have to let the tension and conflict drive you apart. With my help, you can gain the education, self-awareness, and communication skills needed to repair and restore your relationships and navigate future issues on your own.
What if my family dismisses me or laughs at the very idea of therapy or coaching or training on this topic?
Even if a family member refuses to participate, therapy can still provide a powerful space of support for individuals, siblings, or like-minded family members who feel at a loss. I can teach you the skills for and importance of setting healthy boundaries as well as how to grieve the possible reality that some family members may not change at all or enough to resume how things once were. If that is the case, I also offer Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), a powerful tool for processing loss and moving forward despite emotional obstacles.
Is the current political climate creating an underlying sense of anger, frustration, pain, or sadness among family members that you don’t know how to address? Do you find it harder and harder to like the people you love as you hear them saying or see them doing things that run against your moral fiber? Are loved ones posting content on social media that feels like attacks on everything you believe in or stand for?
Perhaps you have children and you’re afraid that they will see the people they admire aligning themselves with harmful ideologies, so you slowly divest yourself of those relationships. Or maybe you have tried unsuccessfully to resolve political differences with your parents or children and feel like your only healthy option is to emotionally divorce yourself from these relationships completely.
If political differences in your family are challenging the way you feel about the people you love, you are not alone. More and more, the impact of politics and current events is evident everywhere we look: social media, the news, work, and family gatherings. So it’s understandable why many of us are on emotional high alert. And although it may be tempting to point fingers, a change in presidential leadership isn’t going to change anything either because so many different factors play into a person’s belief system.
Social media targets us with content we already half-believe, which further insulates us from alternative perspectives and ideas. We often unintentionally lean toward news outlets or online communities that confirm biases or preconceived ideas we have about people or situations. And the sheer amount of information out there can be difficult to process and adapt to, so we sometimes just shut it out and pretend like it doesn’t exist.
Some people may not even have the ability to challenge the way they think because they grew up within a different cultural framework. In that way, the lack of understanding surrounding certain sociopolitical issues is often generational. Up until 20 years ago, complex ideas—such as white privilege, microaggression, and unconscious bias—simply were not a part of the social discourse. So if someone grew up in a certain period, exposure to these ideas can feel wrong or even threatening to their identities—as if the whole world is leaving them behind.
And though it may feel like the easiest thing to do is avoid the people who frustrate you, it is simply not in anyone’s best interest to divorce themselves from loved ones. Fortunately, I can help you reconcile these very important differences in a way that validates each party’s concerns and contains the conversation.
What perspective can a white person offer on the politics of diversity and inclusion?
I concede that a person of color would have greater insight on matters of race. However, as a gay man and therapist, I understand what it means to face adversity and opposition on a personal and institutional and systemic level. And I also realize my privilege as a white man in America and attempt at every turn to use my advantage to help other people. I am on the Faculty at the Graduate School of Counseling Psychology at Teachers College – Columbia University, which excels at producing leaders of social justice and culturally competent therapy applied through the lens of cultural humility.
The relationship I have with my family is so toxic, I think repairing it is an uphill battle I can’t win?
Although family therapy can’t fix all problems, the research is very clear that even the most resistant people can change. And because everyone’s concerns are validated in sessions—even if they are misguided—family counseling can reach people where other ways have failed. And though it may seem like certain ideas or realities will never sink in, unconsciously those gears will start turning, your loved one’s eyes will start to open, and they will become more adaptive to new information.
If politics and current events have fractured your family’s sense of connection, I can help. Please call 917 699 9722 for your free, 15-minute consultation to see how family therapy can help you communicate better, resolve fundamental differences, and learn how to co-exist and thrive peacefully.
Even though you may want to at times, you simply can’t shove information down a person’s throat. And despite the need to have important conversations in families, sometimes the subject matter can be so triggering or emotionally charged that it can make people, even loved ones, want to walk away. However, working with a family therapist gives each party a safe and controlled environment in which to have sensitive discussions with an impartial mediator. Change doesn’t happen overnight and it isn’t always linear. Sometimes people take one step forward then two steps back—so part of therapy is also about understanding the process of behavioral change.