What is Family Therapy at the OCFI?

In Family Therapy, the therapist provides a safe haven where family members can clarify relationship problems and understand the patterns of communication that prevent a satisfying resolution.

The therapist helps family members to talk to each other in new ways that help them to connect and care for each other. A positive outcome study on our approach to improving family relationships was conducted at the Ottawa Hospital, Civic Site. This approach is based on a well-researched perspective on parent-child relationships.

With our help family members create often more secure emotional bonds that help them deal effectively with family crises, transitions and problems. Positive secure family connections help children develop a positive sense of self, psychological resilience and coping skills.

Family Therapy can help parents deal with anxiety and depression in their children and adolescents as well as the general problems that arise in family transitions.

What is Couple Therapy at the OCFI?

In couple therapy, the client is the relationship between two partners. This relationship has become “stuck” in a negative pattern that, after a while, destroys trust and affection. In effective couple therapy, the therapist provides a safe place - an opportunity to talk to your partner in new ways that can de-escalate conflict and help both partners to reconnect. The couple therapist is not interested in assigning blame but in helping partners see the dance they are caught in and changing that dance. The therapist is a consultant to your relationship and can help you make sense of your relationship problems and the strong emotions that all distressed partners feel.

The therapists at the OCFI have all had special training in Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy - an intervention that has demonstrated excellent outcomes in research studies and is accepted by the American Psychological Association as an empirically validated intervention of proven effectiveness. In the past 15 years, Couples Therapy has grown enormously and EFT has been part of that growth. We now understand many of the ways that relationships go awry and in EFT research studies we have mapped the steps in the pathway from distress to satisfaction.

We know, for example, that emotional distance and a loss of responsiveness predicts divorce better than the number of fights a couple has. We know that “master” couples can reach for each other and soothe each other emotionally. We know that in EFT how engaged you become on the process is a better predictor of your satisfaction at the end of therapy than your initial level of relationship distress.

A positive relationship is associated with better physical and mental health, the ability to deal with stress and a more positive sense of self. When a couple improves their relationship they create a vital resource that helps both of them face the difficulties of life with more resilience and confidence. A strong couple bond is also the basis of a strong and stable family life. We believe, and research supports this belief, that your love relationship is your greatest resource. Effective couples therapy helps you understand and care for this precious resource.

EFT is used with many different kinds of couples and in diverse cultural contexts. OCFI has helped both traditional and non-traditional couples including gay and lesbian partners.

What is Individual Therapy at OCFI?

Individual therapy involves a one to one session with a therapist who is knowledgeable about a range of emotional and psychological issues and can support individual clients to deal with such issues. Clients seek out individual therapy for any number of problems, from particular life crises and transitions, to ongoing struggles with problems such as addictions, anxiety or depression.

The goal of such therapy at the OCFI is to help clients find and believe in their strengths and make positive choices for themselves and their loved ones. The approach to therapy at the Institute is based on the model of therapy created by the famous visionary, Carl Rogers, and validated by the recent research of colleagues such as Les Greenberg of York University. In this form of therapy, you can expect to be listened to with empathy and respect. The therapist is a consultant who will help you put your difficult experiences and emotions together in new ways and so find positive ways of coping and growing.

How long can we expect to be attending sessions?

Emotionally Focused Therapy is a brief therapy and typically clients can expect to see changes in their relationship or individual problems in 10 - 20 sessions. Certainly the number of sessions depends on the client, the severity of the problem and how long a relationship has been distressed.

How often do we meet and for how long?

Typically sessions are scheduled on a weekly basis in order to build the momentum needed to produce change. Sessions vary in length from one hour to one hour and a half.

Are the sessions covered by OHIP?

Sessions are NOT covered by OHIP but most employers provide coverage for psychological services under their extended health plan. Each OCFI therapist sets their own billing rate and fees need to be discussed with each individual therapist.  Reduced therapy fees can usually be arranged if clients see a Psychologist Intern i.e. a PhD doctoral student who has been trained in EFT, has therapy experience and works under the supervision of a senior Psychologist.

How are the sessions of couples therapy structured?

Typically a first session includes both partners. One individual session for each partner is arranged following the initial session. All further sessions include both partners. Families are typically seen as a group for the first session and following sessions usually include various family pairings, including mother and child, the parents, the father and child etc.

Do I need to bring anything to the first session?

Clients are asked to arrive for their first appointment a few minutes early in order to fill out information forms and read relevant literature pertaining to the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute. We invite you to ask your therapist any question you might have before beginning the session and at any point through the therapy process.

What is a social worker?

Therapists trained as social workers at the Ottawa Couple and Family Institute are professionals with a Master level degree and have been trained in systems theory and family and group therapy. Social workers have an emphasis in their training on fieldwork in a variety of settings, including mental health and child welfare.

What is a registered marital and family therapist?

A RMFT is a professional with a minimum of a Masters level of education who has furthered their training in couple and family therapy. They have met the rigorous standards of course work, clinical hours and supervision set by the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy and are registered as a marriage and family therapist with the Canadian registry.

What is a psychologist?

A psychologist is a registered mental health professional who has undergone academic and clinical training leading to a doctoral degree in clinical psychology. Subsequent to the requirements of the doctoral degree which includes extensive academic course work, a doctoral thesis and a supervised 2000 hour internship, a psychologist has met all the requirements of the College of Psychologists of Ontario, and has therefore successfully completed written and oral examinations and at least a year of supervised practice. In addition to providing psychological treatment, a psychologist is legally qualified to make a formal assessment and diagnosis of a person afflicted by a mental illness or condition. Psychologists at the OCFI have also undergone extensive couples therapy training in EFT at the University of Ottawa and at the Institute. Many are qualified to teach EFT to other professionals wishing to learn couples therapy.

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