Types of therapies: Family Systems Therapy

Welcome to another exciting #TheoryThursdays!


The most important thing I know about family therapy is that working in therapy with a family does not mean you are having family therapy. The second most important thing I know is that you can use family therapy without a family present.

Family Systems Therapies are the theoretical approaches that use the family system to understand what is not working and to solve it at the same time. The idea that small change can lead to big changes is importantly rooted in this approach.


A professor of mine once told us that the greatest family therapy session is that in which family members forget about the therapist being there.

The therapist will remain as objective as possible, without taking sides, and try to intervene as they would do with an individual client, to serve as a sounding board for what the family is bringing.

The use of genograms is fairly common in this approach, although it is not unique to it. A genogram is the graphic description of a family, that may include different generations, important events, and relationships and dynamics among members.


A slight difference with other kinds of approaches is the use of the identified patient or identified client (IP). Usually, when a family attends therapy, they have targeted someone as the patient, the person who needs the help or around whom some problems have developed.

This does not necessarily mean that in the therapeutic journey this is the sole focus of the therapy. While there is an identified patient, the whole family unit, even the members who are refusing to come, are the clients for the therapist.

Additionally, as I was hinting above, an individual can benefit from working within a systems perspective even if they are going to treatment by themselves. Exploring this person’s genograms, generational trauma, focus on client’s relationships with others and how does interact with current difficulties are some of the examples of how that may look like.


To be honest, I believe Family Systems to be of particular difficulty to practice in therapy. And it is because of that that I have a great admiration for anyone working within the approach.

What do you all think? Anything I have missed? Any experience with this treatment



Corey, G. (2017). Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.


Pi Day!

π Today is Pi Day! π

Whether you celebrate it for its numeral significance, or to get yourself a good piece of dessert, I wish you a happy Pi Day! 

It is also my brother’s birthday, who is a mathematician, so it has always been a great celebration in my family. Maybe because of them as well, I have grown valuing science in its many fields.

I love science and human scientific achievement, and while maybe not completely related to mathematics, the therapeutic field owes a lot to all of the scientists who have devoted their lives into finding ways in which to improve our own. 

I want to send a special shoutout to all the women scientists out there. Yoy may be doing field work, developing new methodologies, elaborating some type of research, you may be working in a lab, or teaching others, but in any case: big thanks for your hard work. 

Take time today to honor those known or unknown scientists who do so much for society, sometimes with so little credit!

Safety Plans

Through my work as a therapist, I have often encountered the need to discuss and develop safety plans with my clients. Safety plans are more commonly used with people that have suicidal ideation, self-harm behaviors, or thoughts related to harming others.

A safety plan is a guide for yourself to have whenever you are not feeling so well. By creating this guide while you have more energy or are more stable, you are making it easier to have some go-to options for when you are not doing so great. A safety plan generally includes different sections that will help you explore what emotions you are dealing with, how to distract yourself or cope and options for you to talk to others.

They can be done by anyone, and often created within a therapeutic setting. While mostly used for the cases mentioned above, I believe they do no harm to people dealing with less severe emotional difficulties.

I have created some documents for you all to download:

Download: Blank Safety Plan

Download: Pocket safety plan an abbreviated smaller version to keep in your wallet or pocket.

Let me know what you think!


Disclaimer: These materials and article are not substitutes for medical care. If you are having any suicidal thoughts, talk to your therapist, call the national suicide helpline or go to your nearest emergency room.


On Staying Grounded

Lately, I’ve been finding it harder to be present. When stress hits me, my tendency is to stay in the past or the future.

I get stuck in the past by overthinking what I have done recently, these past days, or previously on the day. I ruminate on difficulties or mistakes and I replay different scenes in my head.

I get stuck in the future by thinking about what I would want to change, what could be different, and how fast I want to get there.

In either one of those situations, I completely forget to be present. I go through my day without enjoying myself, without really BEING there. 

Some years ago, I used a mindfulness bell app that helped me check with myself every so often. I would take a deep breath, reflect on how my body was feeling, and what sort of emotions were more active. Very often I would find myself clenching my teeth, being completely tense, or experiencing some sort of emotion without being aware.

This kind of bell is currently not so attractive to me, mostly because of the difficulties to have something like that at work added to an important layer of cultural appropriation of which I was not so aware some time ago. 

Now, what can we use to keep ourselves grounded? It’s much more difficult to stay present when we have to do it consciously. Whether you do it with an app or try to do it regularly here are some ideas:

Stay connected to your external senses. A classic grounding exercise would be to try to find 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you touch, 2 things you smell, and 1 thing you taste. This simple exercise will quickly bring you back to the present, as the mind is not able to focus on these external cues while worrying.

Listen to your body needs. Am I hungry? Do I need to sleep? Am I thirsty? Do I need to use the bathroom? When we are not grounded we forget about some of this internal signals. Try to consciously check with yourself. It may be more difficult than expected, especially if you are recovering from an eating disorder or addiction, as this connection to your needs may have been erased by other urges and behaviors. Don’t worry, one step at a time.

Literally feel the ground. Without wanting to reduce this notion to a new-age kind of solution, there is some benefit in connecting our physical bodies to the ground. Like in mountain pose in yoga, by standing tall and trying to connect your feet to the ground you may find your inner ground-ness increase.

Move your body. If you have difficulties with connecting to your physical body, try using your body for movement. You can try to go to the gym, practice yoga, go dancing, or stretch at the office among others. If you have mobility difficulties, you can try moving any part of your body, by doing it very consciously. How does it feel? How are you experiencing those body parts after they move? Are you more aware of them than before?


Do you all have any ideas to stay grounded that may be helpful for others? I want to hear them! 🙂






Therapistry is open!

Today I bring you all my latest project, Therapistry! A store in which I mix the worlds of therapy, art and geek culture all together.


I’ve been working on this for some time, and I hope you will like the ideas as much as I loved creating these products! CLICK HERE to take a look at the store.

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Mindfulness is the process of bringing awareness to the present moment and experiences, internal or external. More commonly used within the idea of Mindfulness Meditation it’s referencing a type of meditative practice based on Buddhist traditions. It has been brought to western countries in recent decades and considered it to be introduced by John Kabat-Zinn.

Researchers have investigated Mindfulness to be effective to reduce stress, pain, anxiety as well as gaining focus on necessary tasks. Clinicians may use it with patients who suffer from this or related difficulties. The lay people may practice it nowadays thanks to the extension of meditation exercises, workshops or books available out there.

While the use of Mindfulness practices may be a great addition to any kind of treatment, I would not recommend to use it in place of any medical treatment.



You’ve all probably heard or read about self-care sometime. The term seems to be gaining momentum lately. Therapists and ‘influencers’ alike are sharing their #selfcare moments with the world, and yet, many people have asked me about what self-care really means.

Image result for hot tea

For me, enjoying some nice hot tea is part of self-care

Often reduced to a synonym for drinking wine, self-care varies in the way it is used, by whom it is used and the situation surrounding it. Audre Lorde described “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare”, and as her, I believe it is rebellious and self-preserving to care for oneself. For any person, self-care would be the practice that helps them ground back to a more desirable state both in mind and body. For someone with mental health difficulties, it could mean understanding specific needs and target them. For someone with psychological trauma, it would start by identifying the triggers and skills to be able to re-stabilize into “normality” after they occur. These are just some ideas, and of course, they will vary much depending on your experience, culture, ability or race.

So how to go about practicing self-care? The first thing I consider to be of great use is to have a Self-Care Plan. You can write up this in a moment when you are feeling at peace and relaxed and when you are at a good mind space.

Your plan can be organized however you like, as it suits you better. It can be organized by areas, situations, moments of the day, or by places, among others. For example, I organize mine by areas (food, exercise, people) because that works better for me, but some people may need to organize it by places (self-care at home, at work, on the bus).

After you make a broad classification, you can go ahead and add activities you will do that make you feel better. Sometimes activities will be individualized “take a bath” and often these behaviors will be specified as situational (if ‘x’ happens, do ‘y’).

If you are under psychological treatment, please talk to your therapist to create together your self-care plan. This plan could include going to therapy, taking your meds, or practicing something related to your treatment.

It is important that you create a plan that is manageable, and always reminding yourself that this isn’t homework. If it feels tiresome, it’s SElfCareprobably not a good self-care activity. Forget about Instagram stars sharing their self-care activities, or even forget about what I said. Write what would make you feel better, more grounded and more comfortable.

Of course, this is not to say that it will be easy to apply it. It’s usually not. Women, and more so, women of color, carry with them this role of the “caregiver”. Under this lens, we’ve
all been taught to care for others, hide weaknesses and be selfless. This has traditionally only created burnout, mental illness, and unhappiness. It will take a hard collective effort to care for ourselves and help others care for themselves.

I would highly recommend having the list of activities and areas close to you at all times, either printed, written down or on your phone on the cloud. Some people also create self-care packages that they keep in their homes for moments of need. They may contain chocolates, bath salts, face masks, color pencils, popcorn… You don’t need to spend a lot of money and time creating these, for example, check out some pinterest ideas for packages.


This may also be a great idea to gift someone who you know may be struggling with mental illness or just a difficult stage. You can even create your boxes together with a friend!

If you are looking for specific tools, I highly recommend this interactive guide to self-care by Jace Harr. It is most appropriate to be used in the moment, meaning it’s not that much of a plan but more of an instant helper. Check it out whenever you are feeling down or not completely grounded. Jace has a patreon page if you feel like checking it out (or you can also donate to their PayPal account).

I hope any of this helped clear some doubts!


What do you all think? What do you do for self-care? Please let me know if you would like to know more or ask for more examples of what you can do.





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