Counseling Frequently Asked Questions

What is Brief Therapy?
Does Brief Therapy Work?
What is Practical Therapy?
What Should I Expect from a Practical Therapist?
Who is Invited to Therapy?
How do you Decide Which Issues Need Work?
Is Practical Therapy for Everyone?
What are your Areas of Expertise?
From what Cities do you Service Clients?

What is Brief Therapy?

Brief therapy is a type of psychotherapy that utilizes one's strengths and resources to help them effectively identify and resolve situations. Brief therapists help clients set measurable goals without limiting the amount of sessions or time spent on particular issues. Often times "homework" is given so the clients use their vast strengths to resolve issues outside of counseling while fine tuning those skills learned in counseling sessions. Working in this way allows therapy to be more effective and efficient for clients.

Does Brief Therapy Work?

Yes! Brief therapy involves setting and accomplishing observable goals and an active process between counselors and clients to accomplish those goals. Hence, brief therapy is often described as more efficient. Clients often find new, effective ways to resolve their issues in a short period of time. Researchers have found that:

  • The average length of treatment is less than 6 months. At the Birmingham Family Therapy Clinic, the average length of treatment is less than 4 months.
  • Most clients benefit from simply one session. At the Birmingham Family Therapy Clinic, most clients report feeling more control over their situation after just one session.
  • The average number of sessions is 10. At the Birmingham Family Therapy Clinic, clients resolve their problems in less than 8 sessions.

What is Practical Therapy?

At the Birmingham Family Therapy Clinic our style of brief therapy is called Practical Therapy. Practical Therapy is a theory and method of brief therapy which emphasizes respect and the collaborative efforts of clients and therapists to resolve challenges effectively and provide long-lasting results. Most clients come to counseling with an understanding of the problem that they want to get resolved. Unfortunately, however they have tried to resolve this problem has either kept the situation around or made it worse. Using the Mental Research Institute's notions of problem formation and resolution as well as the collaborative approaches of Harlene Anderson and systemic therapies, Practical Therapy allows clients to become conversational partners who defined problems, solutions, and the goals needed to resolve them. Counselors working from this method utilize clients' language, reality, vast resources, and strengths, to develop practical possibilities for long-lasting change. As T.S. Eliot said, 'Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.'

What should I expect from a Practical Therapist?

A practical therapist will validate your reality and use your language and experience to understand the situation.

A practical therapist will help you examine how your solutions (your perceptions of the situation and your actions around it) have created or complicated the situation.

A practical therapist will use your vast expertise, resources, and abilities, to help you develop practical, workable solutions for the situation now and in the future. As conversational partners to help us guide the process and direction of therapy, you let us know what works and what doesn't. Therefore, our time with you is more effective.

Who is Invited to Therapy?

As partners in the collaborative effort, you will make important decisions about who to include in counseling. Our belief is kept many situations if you are part of problem then you are part of the solution. For instance, when we are working with couples and families, it is often important for each family member to hear from one another their belief of the situation and eventual resolution, as well as what works and what doesn’t in the marriage or family. We will discuss this with you and decide together who to include in each session so that our therapy is the most effective and efficient.

How do you decide which issues need work?

Practical therapists understand that you are the expert in explaining your life experiences including what brought you into counseling. Therefore, as a conversational partner you will direct us in understanding your perception of the issues and eventual resolution of those issues. If you tell us that you want to work on your child's anger management issues we will work on that with you. If we believe that perhaps a marital conflict may be playing a part in the situation, we will discuss this with you as another possibility for treatment focus. In addition, if any family member is destructive to themselves or others, that immediately becomes the treatment focus. This includes destructive conversations that occur in our office. These conversations get broken up until all members calm down and we can continue our work.

Is Practical Therapy for everyone?

No. We have our own motto: "if you have no problem then you have no solution." If you don't have a situation that you are motivated to work on in counseling then we don't do counseling with you. Fortunately, we have found this situation to be the exception to the rule. Practical therapy works with your definition of problem and eventual solution. Therefore, this type of therapy works with a wide range of people and problems, from individual struggles and relationship problems to family issues and marital or pre-marital conflict. We also work quite often with court mandated situations. Many clients are forced into treatment by the courts. We realize that they may not want to be there and we acknowledge and respect that decision. However, as conversational partners you are able to help us find a goal to work on that in the end will help your situation with the courts, allow you the opportunity to be accountable for your actions, and provide you with practical skills that keep these types of legal situations from happening in the future.

What are your areas of expertise?

We are marriage and family therapists. We graduated from accredited marriage and family therapy programs and are clinical members and approved supervisors for the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Our expertise is in areas that affect relationships for individuals, couples, and families. On the average at the Birmingham Family Therapy Clinic, 50% of our clients are dealing with marriage or relationship issues. These issues include: communication problems, spouse abuse, extramarital affairs, anger management, substance abuse, premarital issues, sexual abuse, learning to argue effectively, post-traumatic stress disorder, and rekindling passion and romance. On the average 30% of our clients are working through family issues. These issues include: blended family or adoptive family issues, anger management, children's impulsivity, sexual abuse and/or physical abuse, self-worth issues, attention deficit disorder/attention deficit with hyperactivity disorder, learning to parent effectively, dealing with the loss of a loved one, childhood developmental disorders, and family involvement in the legal system. On the average 15% of our clients are dealing with situations surrounding divorce or dissolution of a relationship. The situations include: custody and visitation issues, parenting time problems, family violence, making decisions in the best interests of children, learning to communicate after divorce, and anger management. On the average 5% of our clients are individuals working through issues of: substance abuse, work-related issues, learning to date, self-esteem, anger management, grief and loss, and court mandated situations.

From what cities do you service clients?

With a convenient location in Birmingham, Michigan we proudly serve clients from the entire Oakland county area including:

Beverly Hills, Berkley, Birmingham, Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Clawson, Detroit, Farmington Hills, Ferndale, Franklin, Huntington Woods, Pontiac, Royal Oak, Southfield, Troy, West Bloomfield.