The experience of emotional safety is a key component of a therapeutic alliance in family therapy, particularly when working with family members who have trauma histories, like those typically treated in intensive, in-home programs. It all begins with active listening, which helps family members feel heard. In addition to feeling heard, family members must feel calm and regulated in the presence of one another and with the therapists. Families in conflict often feel a sense of emotional danger in family treatment, not only from the therapist but also from one another. This course describes five therapist-led actions that decrease anxiety and discomfort and lead to a sense of safety. These actions, which are described in some detail, include: 1) creating a predictable structure for each session, 2) attuning to family member distress and acting as a co-regulator as needed, 3) humanizing family members, 4) maintaining a strength-focus, and 5) interrupting judgment, blame, and hostility.
This is an introductory level course.
As a result of participating in this training, participants will be able to:
- Identify four fundamental active listening skills
- Describe two actions involving boundary setting that creates emotional safety in family sessions
- Describe three relational actions that create emotional safety in sessions.