Is someone in your family suffering and you aren’t quite sure how to help? Maybe your family has experienced a recent crisis and needs outside support. Do you have a child with attention deficits or physical limitations? Has one of the breadwinners in your home lost a job or become ill? Are you struggling to communicate effectively with one another? Perhaps your family is in transition – blending families into stepparents and stepchildren or a much more painful transition such as a death, divorce, or separation.

Your family is your home base, your tribe, your people. When a family’s strength and cohesion is shaken, this can be deeply troubling. Families are complicated things, and maybe you have no idea where to begin to set it right again. Perhaps, while you all love each other, no one can seem to figure out how to be with each other in ways that feel supportive and compassionate.


In my experience, people work hard to make their families healthy and stable. But life can come along and side swipe us at any time. Parents bring their past into the partnership and family life, often unbeknownst to them. In these cases, ineffective or dysfunctional ways of being in relationship can begin to fray the edges of family life. Children can develop behavioral issues, violence can creep into the family dynamic, or a cold silence can prevail. When a family member suffers from a mental health condition, this can rock the foundation of even the strongest family system. Modern life also brings burdens that outweigh the family’s ability to carry them alone. These are uncertain times we live in. Families can and do suffer. Humans are social animals, and we need each other. Families are important to our well-being, so enlisting the services of a committed, caring therapist makes sense.



As a member of Family Systems Therapists Northwest, I address families as dynamic systems and everyone as a vital contributing member. We assess your strengths and what is already working while at the same time bravely facing what’s not. In family therapy we explore the dynamics that contribute to the issues you are facing rather than finding blame. In our work together we shine a light in the dark places to bring compassion, curiosity, and connectedness to the work of being a family.  

In family therapy sessions everyone has a voice, and we strengthen the ability to listen to each other and to work toward empathy and support. Boundaries and communication skills can contribute to family difficulties. I facilitate and model in our sessions how to balance each person’s needs and wants within the context of the whole group, maintain appropriate boundaries, and communicate effectively.

We work together to have a common vision of your family’s goals for therapy. Do you want to have more fun together? Have deeper conversations? Navigate the crisis and come out the other side closer than before? Learn how to argue and actually resolve the conflict rather than leaving it unresolved and festering? Do you want everyone to feel comfortable being themselves within the family? Family therapy can reinforce the inherent strengths you each contribute, making it possible for everyone to feel more connected, safely held within the container of the family, seen, heard, accepted, and loved.


Why family rather than individual therapy?

Working in therapy together as a family can be incredibly effective. You and your family are co-creators, and everyone has an investment in the family’s health. Even individual issues like depression or anxiety are informed by and affect the entire family. Also, doing the work together can strengthen the ties that bind you together as a family in a compassionate healthy way.

What if some of my family members refuse to participate in the therapy?  

Family counseling can be overwhelming and worrisome, especially if someone feels shamed or to blame or if there is a great deal of resentment against another family member. It may be that some members don’t feel like family therapy will help. That’s okay. We begin where you are. I offer a 30 minute initial consultation when your family and I can meet and talk about concerns, what therapy would look like, how it might help, or where to go from here. If family therapy is not an option, then it may be individual work is in order and can also be effective, especially if we approach issues from a family systems perspective.

I’ve heard that family therapy can be expensive and often insurance won’t cover family therapy. How will we afford it?   

I will work with you to address any financial constraints or barriers to insurance reimbursement. Engaging in family therapy is an investment that will be returned a hundredfold. Making a commitment to address the issues faced by the family can save valuable resources in the future.  


I invite you to explore the links to the right for more information about families, family counseling, and family systems. If you are ready to begin or have more questions, I offer a 15 minute phone consultation or a 30 minute initial office consultation. Please call 425-238-2765, send an email to robinbarre@whidbey.com, or fill out the Contact Form. I respond to all inquiries and communications within 48 hours. I invite you to explore the menu on the right for more information and resources regarding families, family systems, and family therapy.


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