Marie Francis's Approach to Counseling & Therapy
“Once upon a time…” is the beginning of many stories. I believe each of us has a personal story that is worthy of an audience. If you have come to therapy, you have a story to tell and I am here to listen to it. Welcome. We are about to embark upon a journey that is driven by your strengths, needs, desires or challenges you may be struggling with. Consider our partnership a roadtrip. You are the driver and I will be your guide, providing directions and pointing out obstacles along the way. Perhaps your story is filtered through the lens of depression, anxiety, trauma or substance dependence. I will listen, and remain attentive to, and curious about the intricacies of your story. I will provide an atmosphere of safety and unconditional positive regard so that the avenues of enlightenment, healing and growth will direct your journey toward your desired therapeutic destination.
When we first meet, I will listen to your story and we will begin to establish concrete and specific goals that you want to achieve. You will tell me where you want to go, and how it will look when you get there. Together, we will establish a collaborative alliance and begin to look at the roadblocks that are impeding movement toward your most desirable self or relationship. This will also be the time when you will advise me of any medical conditions that you may have, some of which could be impacting your emotional well-being. We will explore your family history and discuss your current household composition because where you have been has a profound influence on where you’re going.
Within the arena of psychotherapy, there are many different therapeutic models. I have a professional affinity to several that complement my style and work well with the populations that I have served. When working with families and couples in conflict, I generally use a family systems approach, such as Strategic or Structural therapy. Families have evolved into an eclectic configuration and these models take into consideration the entire family system, somewhat like a vehicle with four wheels. Each wheel has an impact on how the vehicle functions. This therapeutic approach also examines the family’s organized structure as defined by individual roles, cultural norms, invisible boundaries or subsystems, and patterns of interaction. As your therapist, I am the observant coach who points out recurrent systemic patterns, and helps the family develop strategies and tools that address and correct the imbalance. Many times, families need guidance working through life events that affect the system, such as the sudden loss of income, or the death of a family member or pet, or the blending of family members through divorce and/or re-marriage and newly defined parental roles. I will be your partner and coach, encouraging you and providing practical solutions and therapeutic interventions to relieve the stressors you are experiencing.
When working with individual teens, adults and seniors who may be experiencing life-stage transitions, I am prepared to use therapeutic models such as Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, and Narrative Therapy to address such issues as adjustment, anger management, mood irregularity, PTSD, and substance dependence. I will be the one to whom you tell the story that no one else knows. By telling the story, it loses its power and influence. When my clients are struggling with ongoing maladaptive behaviors that continue to create chaos in their lives, I often use Cognitive-Behavior Therapy (CBT). Through exploration of behavioral patterns, I will assist you in making sense of your emotional reactivity by understanding the inter-connection between thoughts, feelings and behaviors, while at the same time identifying automatic thoughts that support negative emotional responses and behaviors. Through Motivational Interviewing when working with clients struggling with substance abuse or other dangerous behaviors, I express empathy through reflective listening, and encourage examination of the discrepancy between their stated goals and values and their current behavior. I will attend to resistance, while avoiding direct confrontation. Through non-judgmental acceptance of my clients and their feelings, I am able to promote recovery by eliminating the shame, remorse and depression that frequently create barriers to recovery.
I have had successful outcomes using the evidence-based model Trauma-Focused CBT, which when combined with Narrative Therapy interventions, assists children and adults who have experienced profound and intense physical and emotional trauma develop relaxation skills, manage emotional reactivity, and create a narrative that acknowledges the trauma, while diffusing its power.
Whatever your personal challenges are, I will provide support and teach skills that will promote management of relationship stressors through healthy communication without defensiveness and judgment. We will uncover and scrutinize multi-generational patterns of behavior and social interaction that no longer serve you and thereby facilitate movement through the stages of change.
I have the personal life experience, as well as professional practice to provide you with the courage to change. I am honored by your trust, and greet you with the mutual desire to enhance your life journey.