Although the families of students do not actually live in the school, they are, nevertheless, an important component of it; their impact on their children, and by extension, the rest of the community looms large. Helping families address their maladaptive styles of functioning is a central intervention.
However, families are not monolithic; rather they are composed of various sub-systems. One of these subsystems, the parental couple, is of particular importance. Since the marital relationship has such a large impact on creating the family environment, ignoring this dyad will make shifting the family dynamic significantly more difficult, if not impossible, and will collude with the family’s need to keep the focus on the identified patient; i.e. the child. While asking/requiring the parental couple to look honestly at themselves is necessary, it is important to be cognizant of the inherent risks and appreciate the commitment and courage that such an examination requires.
Because there are these family subsystems, the family therapist (who, at the Grove School, is also the child’s individual therapist) must be flexible enough to move between these subsystems, addressing and intervening in whatever subsystem needs particular focus at a particular time. In general, here at Grove we expect family therapy to occur at least once/month, but may be scheduled more frequently if necessary or appropriate.