Daniel Minuchin LMFT
I have been a practicing therapist for over 30 years. I work with individuals, couples, and families, and am a hypnotherapist working with people on issues of anxiety and depression. I also provide clinical supervision, consultation, and training.
I have been a practicing therapist since receiving my MA in Counseling Psychology in 1983. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist. I have provided consultation and training on working with families to many organizations in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, and residential treatment. In New York City I have worked with the Jewish Board for Family and Children’s Services, Brooklyn Community Services, Fordham Tremont Mental Health Center, and other organizations. I am on the faculty of the Minuchin Center for the Family, and I am an adjunct faculty in the Family Therapy department at Hofstra University. I am an approved supervisor of the American Association for Marriage and Family therapy (AAMFT). In my private practice in Manhattan I work with individuals, couples and families dealing with a wide range of issues. I am also a practicing hypnotherapist focusing on working with people with anxiety issues (general anxiety, social anxiety, phobias, and panic attacks) and depression. I teach hypnosis at the NY Society for Ericksonian Psychotherapy and Hypnosis (NYSEPH).
I am available for clinical supervision, general and agency consultation on working with families, case consultation, training in family therapy, and hypnosis training
Like most therapists I often work with individual adults who come in to see me to deal with a wide range of issues. I am an eclectic therapist. I pay attention to the context of people’s lives. I want to explore their past and their family, and how that has affected them, but I try to keep my primary focus on the present, on what is happening now. And I try and focus on problem solving, on what to do as well as understanding why things are happening. I think it is important that therapy should feel warm and friendly. Besides what the therapist is doing, and our responses, much of what therapy provides is a non judgmental space where people can talk about what is happening to them, feel listened to, and listen to themselves and come up with some of their own solutions. And finally, part of my job as a therapist is to make sure that people are not just focusing on problems, but to explore strengths and resources and how to expand positives in their lives.
The largest share of my work is with couples. I work with married and unmarried couples. I work with couples who feel that their relationship has become a little stale and more like roommates, and with couples on the brink of divorce who see couples counseling as the last chance of saving their marriage. I work with gay couples and straight couples. I work with couples who are separating and want to work on how to divorce in a way that will be easiest on them and their children. Couples come in with a wide range of issues. Some come in with small conflicts. Others are dealing with infidelity or domestic violence.
In working with couples there are 3 main areas that I attend to. The first is that, except for a few very serious problems, I am less interested in the particular issues that people have, than in the patterns of interaction, the dance that the couple does. While couples are caught up in the details of issues that they are having, there are repeated patterns in how they deal with issues, regardless of which issue they are dealing with on that day. In looking at those patterns, at what creates them, and at changing those patterns, general improvements can happen for people.
We all have ways of looking at the world and beliefs about what things mean that we start developing in childhood. We tend to believe that those are shared beliefs and understandings- that other people think the same way and see the same things. In fact, we are quite different from each other. If you grew up in a family where things basically were going well but it was common for people to get angry and yell at each other, you will tend to have different expectations and behaviors from someone who grew up in a family where people who were angry got quiet. And the two of you will have a different understanding of what it means when someone yells, and how acceptable that is. When couples come together they assume that they have similar understandings, but in fact they come from different universes. And that leads to misunderstandings and conflict. In working with couples, I explore their backgrounds with them to bring to light the differences and misunderstandings that they may not have been aware of.
I think that we all have a tendency to focus on problems, and that it is important in therapy to remember that increasing positives is at least as important as resolving problems. When couples are having problems, those problems will tend to take up an increasingly large share of their relationship. It is important for couples to notice the things that are working in their relationship and to put increased energy into those things. To work on having more shared goals and plans, and in general, to work on growing the positive side of the relationship as well as improving how they deal with problems.
Families and Children
I used to do individual therapy with children. I stopped over 20 years ago. My experience is that no matter what the problem is that a child is experiencing, working with the whole family is a more effective way of helping than working with the child alone. This is also true with adolescents, particularly adolescents experiencing serious problems. This is true whether the issue is parent/child conflict or family communication issues, or if the child or teenager is having serious psychiatric issues. I work with families with children experiencing all the problems that bring children into therapy from school problems and behavior issues to depression and with the whole gamut of diagnoses whether adhd or bipolar disorder or oppositional defiant disorder.
We all are responsive to the patterns in our families You can see in families, how one spouse’s behavior will impact on the other spouses depression. Children and adolescents are particularly responsive to family patterns. They may respond to things that seemingly don’t involve them. They will respond to problems that a parent is having or to conflict between their parents. Family therapy works to change the patterns in the family in order to resolve problems. Sometimes those are long standing stuck patterns. In other cases, families are struggling to adjust to new situations and need to come up with new patterns.
One of the other reasons that family therapy is effective, is that parents know their children better than therapists do, and have more impact on their children than therapists do. Family patterns can lead to problems, but families are also a context for healing which can have more power than what happens in individual therapy.
Most of the family therapy that I do is around children, but not all. Some families come in where all the family members are adults. There may be siblings with longstanding conflict, or issues that have arisen as a parent has gotten older. Sometimes people have conflict surrounding a family business. Family therapy can be helpful when an adult is having problems. There is research to support the idea that couples therapy can be an effective treatment for depression. Families may come in because a parent has become sick.
Hypnosis has strange associations for many people-associations that come from the movies and stage hypnotists. Hypnotists may be seen as controlling people, and it can seem scary. Hypnotherapy really isn’t related to any of that. Hypnosis and trance aren’t really definable, but it can be described as a state of focused attention, a somewhat altered state that includes some element of dissociation. Light trances occur naturally all the time. When you go to the movies, that is a light trance- time sense is distorted, the breathing slows, the body becomes stiller. The big red neon exit signs next to the movie screen are noticeable before and after the movie, but not during the movie.
We all have a conscious set-ideas about what we can do and what is not possible for us. At an unconscious level we don’t have the same kinds of limits and have a much larger range of possibilities. What is useful about hypnosis from a therapeutic point of view is that it creates a conscious/unconscious dissociation, which allows for an unconscious search for solutions. At a conscious level we may be scared of public speaking, but we may have alternatives to that at an unconscious level. Hypnotherapy more often consists of indirect and metaphorical communication meant to elicit solutions from the person being hypnotized, rather than the sort of direct suggestions by the hypnotist that people often think of.
I have a fairly specialized hypnosis practice. I deal largely with anxiety issues. Often social anxiety and general anxiety, but also panic attacks and phobias. I also work with people on the avoidance and procrastination that often accompanies anxiety. I also work hypnotically with people who are depressed, including people who experience both depression and anxiety. I usually work with people using a mix of hypnotherapy and other therapeutic approaches.