Partner Douglas Finney interviewed by WAVY
Coparenting, or parent coordination, is a focus of family therapy with parents who are separated or divorced, and need help with working together to raise their children in separate households. Children are often overwhelmed and confused by the changes in their environment and are worried about the emotional responses of their parents. The escalation in arguments may create an extremely stressful environment for the children. Research substantiates that parents who engage in this type of work early in the divorce process have positive outcomes in establishing a healthy working relationship as coparents.
Some common effects that children of divorce experience include:
- Feeling guilty
- Confusion about feelings
- Depression and anxiety
- Low self esteem
- Not asking for help or becoming very needy
- Behavior out of control
- Rigid defenses, e.g., "all or nothing thinking", extreme denial of reality
- Poor problem solving
- Physical complaints with no organic cause
- Regressed behaviors
The therapist will assess whether the child needs to engage with a child therapist to work through their feelings regarding the parental separation and its aftermath.
The primary objective of coparenting work is to provide the children of divorce an environment free from the parent’s animosity toward each other. The family therapist who helps parents work together in a healthy manner to coparent their children usually has specialized training in child development and child therapy, as well as marital and family therapy. In addition, the therapist should also have experience and familiarity in working within the family legal system.
Therapists generally evaluate each parent separately prior to beginning coparenting work to assess their motivation and committment for the process. Following these exploratory sessions, the therapist will then schedule joint sessions to begin the work.
The content of the sessions will include behavioral expectations, respect,changing family structure and roles, the childrens’ issues, living arrangements and parenting time, healthy communication, problem solving and conflict resolution, and the development of parenting plans.
The goals are to allow each parent to improve their relationship with the other parent as they each begin a new life, and to establish their ongoing relationship as non-married parents in a post divorce parental alliance.
The theoretical perspective of this work is solution focused and does not aim to resolve old marital issues. The children’s needs become the primary focus of the interventions.
The length of time this work takes may be as short as one or two months, or as long as a year.
Medication Management at Finney Zimmerman Psychiatric Associates
Frequently asked questions:
- Why do I need medicine if I am working with my therapist?
- Why do I need therapy if my medication is helping?
Clinicians at FZPA are often asked these two questions. The short easy answer is that the brain contains both a physiological and psychological component. Most mental illnesses have both a structural or chemical component and a behavioral or feeling component.
Consider depression, for example. It is important to realize that depression can present in several different ways and may have various causes. In some cases, the cause may be mostly psychological, such as a reaction to losing a job or the death of a loved one. In this case, the symptoms are likely to be feelings of low self- esteem or sadness. With this situation, individual psychotherapy will be most helpful with perhaps short-term use of an antidepressant medication. In other cases, depression presents with no connection to environmental issues. This type of patient will probably require long-term treatment with antidepressant medication. However, this patient will also need individual or family therapy to learn behavioral ways to cope with this chronic illness. All patients are evaluated first by one of our therapists who then assign the patient to the prescribing professional best suited for their situation. Research demonstrates that if the person has a condition that can be treated with medication management the best outcome will be by combining therapy with medication treatment.
Examples of conditions that will usually require medication are:
- Anxiety Disorders such as OCD, excessive worrying, PTSD. Trauma
- Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, both hyperactive, inattentive and combined.
- Autistic Disorders (Pervasive Developmental Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Depression and other mood disorders
- Post Partum depression
- Psychotic (thinking) disorders, such as Schizophrenia
Medication evaluations and medication management are provided by our four highly experienced board certified psychiatrists. Our medical team includes:
- Frank A. Roberto, MD (Children, Adolescents and Adults)
- Christine Truman, MD (Adults)
- Roberto Luna MD (Children and Adolescents)
- Stacey Helps, DO (Children, Adolescents, and Adults)
We are fortunate to live in a time and place where there are hundreds of medications that can result in remission or control of symptoms of most major mental illness. Our medical team as well as our therapists considers close consultation with primary care providers essential. We carefully review all of the patient's current medications and general health problems. Careful and through explanations are given regarding the medications' expected effects and any possible adverse effects. We welcome your questions about the risks and benefits of psychiatric medication. We will also be happy to discuss financial constraints to medication choices.
The Effects of Alcohol on Children and Adolescents
Alcohol is the #1 drug of choice of children and adolescents
Each day, 7,000 children in the USA under the age of 16 take their first drink.
Alcohol has a serious impact on the brain of children and adolescents. The human brain continues to develop into the early twenties.
- Research indicates that alcohol abusing adolescents may remember 10% less of what they learn than non-drinkers.
- The approximately one million frequent heavy drinkers have mostly lower grades than non-drinkers.
- High school students who use alcohol and other drugs frequently are up to five times more likely than others to drop out of school.
- Peer alcohol use is a strong predictor of adolescent alcohol use.
- Students are less likely to use alcohol if they feel their teachers are fair and they experience social acceptance.
Those who begin drinking before age 13 are mulch more likely even in high school to frequently drink to intoxication.
Alcohol is the leading contributor to the leading causes of death among young people in the United States.