The Important Role of the Family Therapist

The need for the services of a family therapist has been growing for many decades. It seems clear that, despite all the apparent improvements in living conditions and the technological advances intended to make our day-to-day lives easier, these changes may not have achieved the hoped for benefits.

Today, more people than ever are without work and adequate incomes. Doctors are prescribing more anti-depressants than antibiotics and drug abuse and alcoholism have reached an all-time high while the increase in violent crime has made virtual prisoners of many South Africans. More than half of today’s marriages end in divorce and, recently, thousands of single parents have begun spending their evenings browsing internet dating sites in search of love or companionship or simply looking for sex without commitment.

Although the situations cited above and many others that can eventually result in unmanageable stress may take their initial toll on an individual, the overall negative effects will invariably be shared by those who are closest to him or her, both within and outside of the family. To achieve lasting results, a therapist will often be required to include not just the initial sufferer but also some of the others involved in this shared dynamic when providing counsel. Often it may affect just a spouse in those situations where a marriage is threatened and counselling the couple is sufficient. However, there are also situations in which the children too may need psychological support.

In practice, many of the professionals who are engaged in this branch of psychotherapy now believe that, even where an issue is seen to be an individual rather than a shared experience, there are still many benefits to be gained by encouraging the direct participation of friends and relatives in counselling sessions. It has long been demonstrated that the appropriate support of those closest to the patient can serve to expedite his or her recovery and so their inclusion will allow the family therapist to discuss and define the nature of that support.

Dr Tienie Maritz is a Counselling and Educational Psychologist who operates a practice in Pretoria and who specialises in this form of counselling. With his help many couples have managed to resume their own identities while learning to value the emotional benefits of their relationship. Likewise many of those who may have been the unintentional victims of a spouse’s or parent’s depression have been helped to better understand the causes of such behaviour and to adopt a more supportive role rather than the purely reactive and critical one that can so often serve to exacerbate any dysfunctional tendencies.

To achieve his success, family therapist Dr Tienie Maritz, calls upon all of the tools found to be most effective by his peers around the world and during his own 24 years of experience. After a careful evaluation of each case he will compile a course of counselling, drawing on the mix of ego-analytic, cognitive-behavioural and rational-emotive techniques that he deems appropriate to the circumstances.

Since many of today’s problems have financial roots, it is comforting to note that Tienie not only charges medical aid-approved rates but does not demand upfront payments. Furthermore, those without aid can negotiate payment terms when registering – typical of the concern shown by this exceptional family therapist.

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A message from Dr Tienie Maritz

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