Family Therapy
Encino Psychiatrists Karen L. Vause and Ramzi Kiriakos
Encino Psychiatrists
16550 Ventura Blvd.
Suite 212
Encino, CA 91436
Direct Contact Information
Karen Vause, MD (818) 995-0640
Ramzi Kiriakos, MD (818) 881-8208
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Family Therapy

A family is a small group of people related to each other by blood or other strong ties. Commonly, a family is made of parents and children. Parents could be natural parents or step-parents and children could be biological, adopted or step-children.

Functional Family

A good functional family is a family that has an atmosphere allowing the members to grow, prosper and feel content. Belonging to this type of family will help them satisfy their needs, give them support, security and comfort. If the children reach the stage to move into the adult world, whether college or work, they are encouraged to move forward. The children know that they are welcomed back to visit or obtain replenishment of love. When any member of the family has misfortune, sickness or a loss, they find the rest of the family is supportive and encouraging. The same is true if a member of the family has had good fortune with an accomplishment, marriage, or the birth of a child. The happiness of one of the members of the family makes the others member happy, joyful and complimentary.

Dysfunctional Family

In a disconnected family, the atmosphere is full of tension and conflicts. There is on-going controversy, fighting and bickering in communications. Communication is not straight forward and direct. Communication is characterized by miscommunications and a lot of misunderstandings. The family may identify one member of the family as the cause of the trouble, “the identified patient”. The “sick” member may in fact be suffering from psychiatric illness, but frequently “the identified patient” is in fact the scapegoat for the family and used as target for focusing all the family problems. Another example occurs when one of the parents is depressed and the children may not be able to point out the problem and they cope by acting out. One member of the family may be an alcoholic, drug abuser or a compulsive gambler. Some families may have one parent who is sequentially involved with extramarital relations creating an atmosphere of insecurity, irritability and disillusionment.

In the enmeshed family, the family members are overinvolved with each other. The boundaries between individuals are blurred and the whole family behaves as if it were one individual. Such families tend to isolate its members from the rest of the world around them and foster the myth that the world is more dangerous that it is in fact. If a child goes to college, he may experience more anxiety than normally expected and may find his way home where it is “safe and predictable”. Families with excessive enmeshment will create an elastic bond that can stretch from home to anywhere in the world.

The elastic bond is strong enough to drag the child back home and interfere with their ability to have a healthy independent existence outside the family and to have a healthy adult relationship with their nuclear family.

Family Therapy

Family therapy will attempt to identify the problems in the family in the presence of the remainder of the family. Some examples of family problems may be:  the member that is depressed or paranoid, the parent who uses money to control the rest of the family, the member that drinks too much or uses drugs, and the parent who is a compulsive gambler, and the parent who is a “control freak”. 

Family therapy will also identify pathological patterns of communication such as one member accusing others of what he is guilty of doing. Another form of pathological communication is splitting the members of the family into good and bad members.

Family therapy can demonstrate to the family, how to deal with sickness, to avoid scapegoating, to have honest communications about the good, the bad and the ugly. Family therapy helps how to identify the sick and healthy members and how to accomplish that in a supportive atmosphere that allows full disclosure. Good family therapy will eventually take the family to a place where the family members enjoy each other and support each other. They also encourage each other to accomplish their personal life goals.

Additional therapy services offered by Encino Psychiatrists: