Couple therapy is a counseling procedure that attempts to improve the adaptation and adjustment of two people who form a conjugal unit. It helps couples of all types recognize and resolve conflicts and improve their relationships. Through couple counseling, you can make thoughtful decisions about rebuilding your relationship or going your separate ways. At the SCC, if you’re looking for a specific model of couple counseling, you can choose therapists specifically trained in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), Imago Therapy or the Gottman Method. But any of our therapists can help with the communication problems, the trust issues, the sexual issues, the control issues and the money problems that most commonly lead to diminished relationships. Whether it’s an affair, an Internet or sports addiction, a loss of connection or affection, or a sense of dissatisfaction or general unhappiness in your relationship, the SCC can help.
Family therapy is a type of counseling done to help family members improve communication and resolve conflicts. Family therapy is often short term. It may include all family members or just those most able to participate. Your specific treatment plan will depend on your family’s situation. Family therapy sessions can teach you skills to deepen family connections and get through stressful times, even after you’re done going to therapy sessions. While many therapists get training in family therapy, at the SCC we have specialists called Marriage and Family Therapists. They are licensed specifically to work with families, approach family problems with a no-fault attitude, work systemically with the whole family and don’t single out any individual as “the problem.” Rather, all family members take responsibility for their own part and contribute to a solution that works for every family member.
Individual therapy (sometimes called “psychotherapy” or “counseling”) is a process through which clients work one-on-one with a trained therapist—in a safe, caring, and confidential environment—to explore their feelings, beliefs, or behaviors, work through challenging or influential memories, identify aspects of their lives that they would like to change, better understand themselves and others, set personal goals, and work toward desired change. People seek therapy for a wide variety of reasons, from coping with major life challenges or childhood trauma, to dealing with depression or anxiety, to simply desiring personal growth and greater self-knowledge. A client and therapist may work together for as few as five or six sessions or as long as several years, depending on the client’s unique needs and personal goals for therapy.
Pastoral counseling involves a helping relationship between a religiously affiliated counselor and an individual, couple, or family who seek assistance for coping with life. Pastoral counselors include ordained ministers and consecrated professionals licensed in the field of counseling and therapy. The word “pastoral” indicates that services are provided which are sensitive to the spiritual viewpoints and values of counselees regardless of their faith affiliation. A respect for the faith dimension of human experience is an important contribution of the pastoral counseling movement to the mental health field. Pastoral counseling assumes that a counselee’s spiritual life has value in helping to heal emotional wounds, resolve conflicts, facilitate life transitions, and clarify values and purpose.
The goal in adolescent counseling is to assist teenagers in developing a strong sense of identity rooted in honesty, compassion, self-responsibility, and respect. We accomplish this by working together with the adolescent teaching them how to express emotions, communicate needs, increase self-confidence, define values, establish personal boundaries, and gain other life skills to set the adolescent up for success academically, emotionally, and socially. Parents play a vital role in counseling services at the Stamford Counseling Center because we believe in a team approach and you as the parent know your child best! We encourage you to be an active participant in your adolescent’s therapy experience. We will check in with you regularly and will want your feedback on how your son or daughter is doing at home.
A form of psychotherapy used with children to help them express or act out their experiences, feelings, and problems by playing with dolls, toys, and other play material, under the guidance and observation of a therapist. As children play they express fantasies and give the therapist clues about family relationships and unconscious conflicts. For example, a child may be unable to verbally express hostile feelings about a parent or sibling but is able to act out these feelings playing with a doll. The role of the therapist is nondirective. The therapist provides an accepting, understanding adult relationship that allows the child to work through conflicts and to experiment with new ways of relating to self and to others. For those children who have had serious trauma in their lives or who have been diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder (RAD), the SCC has specialists in EMDR for children which, when combined with sand tray therapy promotes more rapid healing and family connection.
Co-parenting describes a parenting situation where the parents are not in a marriage, cohabitation or romantic relationship with one another. The term is often used to describe the relationship between two separated or divorced parents attempting to parent their shared children. At the SCC we believe co-parenting works best when: 1. Both parents believe that the other parent has the best interests of the children at heart. 2. Both parents believe that the other parent is valuable, worthwhile and important in the children’s life. 3. Both parents believe that the children need to have a relationship with both parents, and both parents actively support that relationship. 4. Once the parents have made a parenting decision, they will actively support the decision and each other in that decision. 5. Both parents will do whatever it takes to support the other parent’s relationship with the children. This is the work.
Grief counseling aims to help people cope with grief and mourning following the death of loved ones, or following major life changes that trigger feelings of grief (e.g., divorce, loss of a job, etc.). Grief can shake everything up – your beliefs, your personality, and even your sense of reality. Bereavement is the time we spend adjusting to loss. There is no standard time limit and there is no right or wrong way to feel during the bereavement period – everyone must learn to cope in his or her own way. Talking about a loss often allows a person to adjust to their new life with all its changes – good and bad. Keeping things bottled up or denying the sadness could prolong the pain. Any loss has to be acknowledged for us to move forward. Grief counseling tries to help clients find a place for their loss so they can carry on with life and eventually find acceptance.
Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is an integrative psychotherapy approach that has been extensively researched and proven effective for the treatment of trauma. EMDR is a set of standardized protocols that incorporates elements from many different treatment approaches. To date, EMDR therapy has helped millions of people of all ages relieve many types of psychological stress. The goal of EMDR therapy is to process completely the experiences that are causing problems, and to include new ones that are needed for full health. “Processing” does not mean talking about it. “Processing” means setting up a learning state that will allow experiences that are causing problems to be “digested” and stored appropriately in your brain. The goal is to leave you with the emotions, understanding, and perspectives that will lead to healthy and useful behaviors and interactions going forward the rest of your life. At the SCC we currently have two therapists especially trained in EMDR therapy, both with many years of experience.
When you hear “hypnosis” you might think of the traditional form of Hypnosis where the powerful, authoritative hypnotist implants suggestions in his subject, such as, “you are getting sleeeeepy. Your eyelids are growing heavier and heavier. You will quit smoking, . . .” This traditional form of hypnotherapy uses commanding language called direct suggestion. This method sometimes works, but not for everybody. Some people resist these suggestions. The form of hypnotherapy practiced at the SCC, however, is Ericksonian hypnotherapy. It uses more of what is called indirect suggestions. Indirect suggestions are much harder to resist because they are often not even recognized as suggestions by the conscious mind, since they usually disguise themselves as stories or metaphors. An example of an indirect suggestion is “and perhaps your eyes will grow tried as you listen to this story, and you will want to close them, because people can, you know, experience a pleasant, deepening sense of comfort as they allow their eyes to close, and they relax deeply.” Most people describe the experience of hypnosis as very pleasant. Hypnosis is not a type of therapy, but a procedure that can be used to facilitate therapy. It has been used in the treatment of pain, depression, anxiety, stress, habit control, posttraumatic stress disorder and many other psychological and medical problems. At the SCC hypnosis is used as an adjunct to treatment with a therapist who is trained in the use and limitations of clinical hypnosis.
For several years the growing field of life coaching has been receiving a lot of publicity. A life coach creates self-awareness by asking questions, backing a variety of strategies and options, and supporting action. With regard to the five stages of behavior change (pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance), a life coach supports appropriate “action” while simultaneously building a strong foundation in “contemplation” and “preparation.” A perfect analogy is that of a coach to a homebuilder. On the outside, a new home may be beautiful — perfect brick, landscaping, floor plan, etc. But the house’s ability to withstand storms and winds lies in the foundation, the framing and the fine details that the builder invested beneath the exterior structure. Your long-term success depends on all your underlying factors and challenges of daily life, managing time, defining needs and goals, identifying obstacles and solutions, learning accountability, making commitments, delaying gratification and creating healthy boundaries. A life coach works to help you create this strong and lasting foundation of awareness and lasting change. Life coaching is NOT psychotherapy. Your coach simply reminds you of your strengths, helps you to feel better about yourself and gives you valuable feedback on your thoughts and behavior to support you in moving forward. The focus is on positive change: stating this is where I am now, what do I want next?
Support groups bring together people facing similar issues, whether that’s illness, relationship problems or major life changes. Members of support groups often share experiences and advice. It can be helpful just getting to talk with other people who are in the same boat.
While not everyone wants or needs support beyond that offered by family and friends, you may find it helpful to turn to others outside your immediate circle. A support group can help you cope better and feel less isolated as you make connections with others facing similar challenges. A support group shouldn’t replace therapy, but it can be a valuable resource to help you cope. At the SCC support groups are always changing. Currently we offer a divorced father’s support group, a 1st stage Alzheimer’s support group, and an adolescent drug and alcohol support group. If you would like to become part of a group that is not currently offered, simply call our main number and make your request. One of our therapists interested in running such a group would then get back to you.
The Turning Point Program, launched in 2000, is an out-patient, community subsidized, mental health program for lower income, uninsured individuals and families who are experiencing relationship crises and who are unable to pay the usual cost for professional counseling.
Turning Point clients are seen in short-term individual or family therapy, and during and as follow-up they are urged to participate, if they are not already doing so, in some form of community organizational support, such as a community agency or perhaps a congregation. The short-term format (a maximum 10 sessions) helps to conserve funds in order to serve more people. Additional funding is constantly being sought to enable us to serve more families and to extend the therapy when required.
This program has been particularly helpful to the working poor and the growing immigrant population in lower Fairfield County, which is why we are fortunate to have a therapist who speaks Spanish and Portuguese.
More detail and demographic/statistical information is available upon request, showing the remarkable diversity of our clients, especially in terms of country of origin.
It is increasingly well known that Alzheimer’s disease and memory loss from other causes is escalating as a public health problem of frightening proportions. The Early Stage Memory Loss Program it set up to serve the needs of the early stage Alzheimer’s community and their families. Developed by nurse psychotherapist Maureen Matthews, Ph.D., R.N., the program takes counseling to another level with two additional elements: Memory Works and “To Whom I May Concern.”
Maureen has been with the Center since 1998, and was the founding president of the Fairfield County chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She has worked with Alzheimer’s patients and care-givers for many years and served as a consultant to nursing homes, helping develop dementia care units.
This program serves a significantly under-served population in lower Fairfield County. Funding will support the ongoing development of this program and helps to underwrite “scholarships” (subsidies) for those unable to pay the modest cost of the Support Group and the Memory Works group, as well as related consultation services.
Under the direction of Karen Mazarin-Stanek, LMFT, and in collaboration with the Probation Department of the Stamford Superior Court, this program provides short-term, solution-focused therapy for individuals on probation to help them alter maladaptive behavior and ways of thinking, assist them in utilizing the strengths and resources of their families and community, and improve the quality of their relationships.
Clients referred by probation officers are seen at no cost for ten counseling sessions (or more under special circumstances) in a private room at the Stamford Courthouse. The counselors are advanced graduate students from local universities doing their internship at the Stamford Counseling Center and under the supervision of licensed members of the Center’s staff.
At the end of the initial ten-session phase clients may end their counseling or have the opportunity to continue at the Center or elsewhere to address other issues, including financial, housing, employability and employment, legal, medical, educational and nutritional needs.
The goal is to help them learn how to transform the challenges of substance abuse, violence, crime, physical and emotional abuse and poverty into opportunities for growth. We use the solution-focused techniques of family therapy to foster self-improvement and relationship healing and enhancement.
Through this program we have established a working relationship with the probation office that enhances the work of its officers, improves services to probationers, and reduces recidivism to the benefit of probationers, their families and the community at large. Clients learn how to become better parents, more responsible partners and more productive members of the community.
This program is a huge success, according to the Probation Department, and provides interns with ample counseling hours toward their university program requirements.
With the success of the Adult Probation Outreach Program, the Center has developed a Juvenile Probation Outreach Program focused on juvenile offenders.
Research shows that individual psychotherapy and couple or family counseling can be usefully supplemented by group services for many relational issues and can be uniquely suited to offer the sort of support a person needs. They are also more affordable.
A variety of groups have been offered over time by the Center’s multi-disciplinary staff. Examples include a women’s therapy group, a divorcing couples group, a singles parenting group, a marriage enrichment group, a bereavement group, an early stage memory loss group, and others.
Our very own Drug and Alcohol counselor (LDAC), Lori Gayle, runs this very important group for young people referred by the court, by probation, by school, or often by their own parents. Half psycho-educational and half therapeutic, the group guides often confused and stubborn youth through the pitfalls and challenges of possibly addictive behaviors.
At the client’s request, we have pastoral counselors on staff who are fully prepared to help clients assess and work with the impact of their religious backgrounds and spirituality.
The Center’s staff therapists have a variety of clinical backgrounds, experiences and areas of expertise. Consequently we are able to offer a variety of workshops, seminars, courses and support groups focusing on topics of interest and varied needs. An illustrative list of possible workshop or forum topics is available upon request.
For any organization providing financial support to the Center we offer one no-cost single-event workshop per year. Multi-session courses, retreats and events requiring more intensive preparation or ongoing time commitment are for-fee services. We welcome opportunities to share our expertise with community groups, congregations and other agencies.