While individual therapy can be immensely helpful, family therapy takes into consideration the important role our family plays in who we are and even the struggles we have. Our guest today, Christie Farris, is a dual-licensed LPC (licensed professional counselor) and LMFT (licensed marriage and family therapist) who advocates for a systems approach to individual and family problems. Our parents and family are meant to function as our secure base from which we get our primary source of support, so when these relationships are strained, people can suffer trauma and experience a range of attachment and trust issues. Therefore, working with the family as a whole can shed valuable light on the patterns and coping mechanisms that perpetuate dysfunctional dynamics and prevent members from enjoying healthy relationships. In this episode, Christie shares when (and when not) family counseling is likely to be beneficial, what a typical session looks like, how to deal with a family member’s refusal to participate, and why parents should never feel as though therapy means that they have somehow failed. In fact, most families can probably benefit from therapy, so tune in for this episode to learn more about it!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Christie’s background as a high school teacher and discovering her passion for counseling.
  • Going back to grad school for her Master’s and getting licensed as an LPC and an LMFT.
  • The value of working in a variety of settings and the areas that she specializes in.   
  • The differences and similarities between the work of an LPC and an LMFT.
  • Hear how the mental health struggles of one family member can impact the whole.
  • Why our parents and family play such an important role in how we view all our relationships.
  • When family counseling is beneficial versus when other processes need to happen first.
  • The cost of failing to get help and how therapy is becoming more accessible.
  • Learn what a family counseling session looks like and why everyone has to feel supported.
  • The importance of stating that there is no such thing as finding the ‘bad guy’ in therapy.
  • The tendency for patterns and coping mechanisms to develop in families.
  • Striking the balance between focusing on the family versus individuals within the family.
  • The false belief that if we, as parents, check certain boxes that our children will turn out ‘good’.
  • Encouragement to parents who fear that therapy means they’ve done something wrong.
  • Dealing with scenarios where someone in the family refuses to go to therapy.


“Your first secure base is your family. It is your parents or lack of parents. It is your whole family interaction. And if our families cannot acknowledge us and love us and support us, then sometimes we get that idea that no one will.” — Christie Farris [0:08:53]

“When you look at a family, I might have them in a circle because I believe in facial contact and eye contact and seeing each other to where they are not just staring at me but seeing each other and having those reactions and understandings.” — Christie Farris [0:18:36]

“We have our personality, we are born with that. But our family constructed us and it is how we are built. And to deny that is like cutting off your own arm.” — Christie Farris [0:37:00]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Christie Farris

The Dance of Anger

The Essentials of Family Therapy

Sherry Burkhard

Mosaics of Mercy


You can listen here on our website or through the links below. However, we highly recommend subscribing so you can automatically receive each new episode. To do so, click one of the subscribe options below.



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