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family therapist in los angeles

Finding THE BEST FAMILY Therapy: Los Angeles

Family Systems Therapist With Experience: Los Angeles | West Hollywood

WHO I AM

I have been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for nearly a decade and have worked with families for my entire career.

I was the Clinical Director of a residential treatment center in Malibu, which I designed to focus on family therapy. I run family systems consultation groups to teach new family therapists how to work effectively with families.  

WHERE I WORK

My office is in the heart of West Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd. I work with people from all over Los Angeles, Culver City and Beverly Hills. I can provide online therapy sessions to anyone living in California.

I have a limited number of sliding scale sessions each week, so fees for family sessions vary from $ 195 to $250.

How I work

My approach to family therapy draws from my extensive training and experience in systems theory to understand unhelpful patterns of interactions that contribute to a family problem or issues in family members.

I create an inclusive environment where families from diverse backgrounds are warmly welcomed. In particular, I love helping LGBTQ+ couples and families.

what people say

  • "His insights were spot on and  put things into perspective, which is exactly what I needed and wanted... the best therapy I've had!" Anonymous

  • "Professional, caring, involved, and effective.  ... [I] ..cannot recommend more!." Anonymous

WHAT I HELP FAMILIES WITH

With a compassionate and knowledgeable approach, I collaborate with families in sessions to help tackle a variety of issues, some of which are listed below. If you don't see the specific issue you are dealing with, please call and ask me if I can help, if I can't, I might know another family therapist who can. 

  • Communication issues

  • Teenager Behavior

  • Substance abuse

  • Vaping

  • Identity Development.

  • Anxiety

  • Relationship conflict

  • Parenting

  • Blended family challenges

  • Grief and loss

  • School refusal

  • Oppositional Behaviors

  • Delinquency

  • Risky Behaviors

  • School Phobia

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WHAT IS FAMILY SYSTEMS THERAPY?

As a systemic family therapist with a decade of experience in family counseling in Los Angeles, I understand the importance of relationships and how distressing it can be when a family is struggling. That is one of the main reasons I jumped at the chance to create, develop, and run a family systems-oriented residential addiction treatment program for adolescents and parents in Malibu. As the Clinical Director of this program, I not only worked with hundreds of families but also trained other family therapists in this work.

Unlike individual counseling, a family therapist will address the dynamics of the entire family system, focusing on relationship patterns between parents, children, and even grandparents. It can feel similar to group therapy at times because it requires the participation and collaboration of all members present for it to be effective.​

I have seen that counseling can yield positive results in various areas of mental health, such as enhancing communication skills, rebuilding relationships and increasing trust. As well as general therapy goals of cultivating unity and connection, addressing mental health issues, facilitating discussions about challenging life events, dealing with substance use disorder, and resolving conflict. My expertise lies in creating significant and long-lasting changes to the way people interact so as to assist clients and family members in developing overall well-being and a reduction in symptoms.

Los Angeles Family Therapy? A GUIDE TO STRUCTURAL SYSTEMS

systems

A structural family therapist offers a fresh perspective on tackling family challenges. It sees mental health problem behaviors as deeply rooted in how each family member interacts with each other. To untangle this complexity, therapists use visual aids like family maps. These diagrams are invaluable tools for a mental health professional, showing exactly how issues like depression or addiction persist within the family system and guiding therapeutic strategies.

In this family map, you can see all the family members represented and that the caregiver or parent has two children. There's a nice healthy boundary between the adults and the children, which means that the caregiver is in charge, providing rules, boundaries, love, support, and nurturance in a healthy way. 

There's no one 'correct' way that any family should be, except for the idea that we want parents 'in charge' (on top), family members to have a fair and appropriate amount of influence (size of the squares) and we all know that healthy boundaries create happy families free of mental health concerns.

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Structural family systems theory believes that problems in family members occur when the structure of the family is off, either due to unhealthy boundaries or issues around hierarchy and authority.

 

This second family map shows that a child is 'in charge' of the family - that's indicated with the green square  'on top' of the family. The caregiver has been reduced in size to one of the smallest squares, indicating that they do not have the amount of influence they should be having as an adult There are unhealthy boundaries (the dotted line), which are likely the cause of some of the tension and power dynamics at play.

This family might be having significant issues with 'Child 1', who might be refusing to go to school or perhaps is showing oppositional behaviors and breaking rules or getting in trouble at school.

Structural family systems theory believes that problems in families occur when the structure of the family is off, either due to unhealthy boundaries or issues around hierarchy and authority.

This second family map shows that a child is 'in charge' of the family - that's indicated with the green square  'on top' of the family. The caregiver has been reduced in size to one of the smallest squares, indicating that they do not have the amount of influence they should be having as an adult There are unhealthy boundaries (the dotted line) which are likely the cause of some of the tension and power dynamics at play.

This family might be having significant issues with 'Child 1', who might be refusing to go to school or perhaps is showing oppositional behaviors and breaking the rules or getting in trouble at school.

What Structural Family Systems Therapy Involves

I would work with this family to help them understand and visualize the structure that they would like to have in place. I suspect this would, in part, involve me helping empower this parent and put them back in charge of the family. I might do that by helping them with consequences, limits, and holding or coming up with other ways to loosen the child's grip on their current authority over the family.

I'd help the family with boundaries, ensuring that there's a healthy flow of communication and affection with communication, coping skills, and interventions that help the family connect with words, not actions.

Some of the common interventions I use as a family therapist are in the resources section on this page - in particular, I'm very fond of assigning families the 'House Meeting' Activity. 

family therapy and boundaries

What problems can a family therapist help us with?

Problems

My expertise as a family counselor is rooted in working with parents of teens and tweens here in Malibu in residential treatment centers and in my training in psychoanalytic psychotherapy. 

I am well-equipped to address a wide range of challenges that parents and children face. Whether it's substance use disorder, behavioral issues, setting and respecting boundaries, improving communication, resolving conflicts, navigating blended family dynamics, co-parenting through divorce, or providing support during transitions such as moving or conflict, I am here to assist. I'm seen as a reputable and experienced therapist for family conflict in Los Angeles and have provided assistance to many high-conflict relationships.

Additionally, I specialize in providing co-parenting counseling and family conflict resolution for parents of teens and tweens who are experiencing mental health issues or behaviors such as school refusal, failure to launch, family conflict and Adult Entitled Dependence. I love working with LGBTQ+ pods and understand some of the more unique challenges LGBTQ+ parents face. 

 offering family therapy services in Los Angeles for conflict

DOES FAMILY THERAPY REALLY WORK?

Absolutely! It's an evidence-based approach to therapy, that has studies and research that indicate it's very effective in helping families reconnect and feel closer to each other.

Substance Use DISORDERS:
  • In this study of teenagers substance use, family therapy was more effective in engaging and retaining family members in treatment and improving relationship functioning while also reducing substance use by about 43%

DEPRESSION
  • In this study of adolescents with major depressive disorder, 81% of those treated with family counseling no longer met MDD criteria after treatment, compared to 47% in the waitlist control group. 

EATING DISORDERS
  • This study of adolescents struggling with anorexia nervosa patients showed that 75% had no eating disorder symptoms regardless after a five-year follow-up.

Meet Oliver Drakeford, LMFT CGP, AN EXPERIENCED Clinical Director and family counselor los angeles

About Me

Oliver Drakeford is a seasoned therapist with nearly a decade of professional experience in helping families as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Oliver has cultivated a deep understanding of the intricate dynamics within familial relationships in his research and studies of Family Systems Theory.

 

He holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, which has provided him with a solid foundation in understanding human behavior and therapeutic techniques.

 

Complementing his academic achievements, Oliver has pursued specialized training and certifications to broaden his therapeutic toolkit. He holds certifications from esteemed institutions such as The Gottman Institute, The Center For Group Studies (CGS), and the Los Angeles Institute and Association of Psychoanalytic Studies (LAISPS). Additionally, Oliver has completed training programs in Mentalization-Based Treatment, Group Leadership, and Psychoanalytic Studies, further enriching his practice with diverse perspectives and evidence-based interventions.

 

As a Clinical Director at Pacific Teen Treatment Center in Malibu, Oliver has honed his skills in providing systemic approaches to treatment, emphasizing the pivotal role of family dynamics in the therapeutic process.

His leadership in facilitating multifamily group sessions and training his team in family therapy has earned him recognition for his ability to create transformative experiences for both adolescents and their families. Oliver's unwavering dedication to improving familial relationships has propelled him to the forefront of his field, making him a trusted ally for those navigating the complexities of family and personal life together.

Real Stories of Transformation: Discover How Family Counseling Has Helped Families in Los Angeles

Testionials

"The tools you provided us are working to better help my family during our daily lives and overcome some very difficult situations. GRACIAS ❤"

"Professional, caring, involved, and effective.  Our family cannot recommend more!"

"The entire family has learned so much & it's completely changed our perspective on communication and parenting, as a whole."

Best therapy my daughter and I ever received <3

Empowering Parents with Expert Family Therapy Resources

Resoucs

As part of our commitment to supporting families, we have curated a selection of expert-driven resources tailored for parents. Dive into our comprehensive Anti-Anxiety Parenting Course, discover insightful perspectives with our Parenting Styles Quiz, and effectively plan family meetings using our Family House Meeting Template.

While these links lead to external sites, we assure you that they meet our high quality and data privacy standards. For a deeper understanding of family dynamics and practical tips, explore our exclusive collection of articles and guides in our Family Therapy Blog, where we regularly share professional insights and strategies to enhance family well-being.

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The Anti-Anxiety Parenting Course

Find out more about a grounded approach to parenting here.

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Find Your Parenting Style With This Quiz

Knowing your parenting style is a great first step in understanding your family.

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 Template for A Family Meeting

This template is a great way to organize a house meeting.

Resources for Families In Los Angeles

IIf you are in LA, Culver City or Beverly Hills, there are some resources and services available for families from LA County:

Family Therapy Near You

Specializing in family and couples therapy myself, I am a licensed marriage and family therapist with a decade of experience and am dedicated to providing comprehensive support to families, couples, and individuals.

My practice, located in West Hollywood along Santa Monica Boulevard, focuses on creating inclusive and affirming spaces for all families, especially LGBTQ+ families. Offering both in-person and online sessions, I am committed to serving the diverse needs of families in the heart of Los Angeles. Complimentary consultation calls are available for those interested in exploring how family therapy can enhance their relationships and overall well-being.

 

My office is located centrally in WeHo and is easy to get to from other areas of LA, Westwood, Culver City or Beverly Hills. I am located at 8702 Santa Monica Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

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bullseye target, symbolizing focused goals in family therapy sessions.

When SHOULD I Seek out Family counseling?

As a family therapist with ten years of experience and expertise in working with parents of teens and tweens, I am well-equipped to address a wide range of challenges that parents face. Whether it's behavioral issues, setting and respecting boundaries, improving communication, resolving conflicts, navigating blended family dynamics, co-parenting through divorce, or providing support during life transitions such as moving or family conflicts, I am here to assist and advise parents frequently when family counseling is appropriate.

If you're thinking you might need family therapy, my advice is not to wait too long to call. Better outcomes are more likely if issues are dealt with quickly. and sometimes things get worse, not better, over time, and you might get peace of mind just in a 15-minute call.

How I Help A FamilY TO Repair Relationships

family therapy los angeles: communication issues

I specialize in helping families repair and strengthen their relationships, especially if the family is struggling with family conflict or needs help with the family structure. My role is to support your family in enhancing your current functioning by identifying patterns of interactions that are blocking these innate strengths. Through treatment, we aim to both identify dysfunctional interactions and strengthen positive relationship patterns, ultimately allowing your family to access and utilize these strengths more effectively.

FAQ

FAMILY THERAPY FAQ's

If you have questions for me or about family therapy or how family systems therapy works, you can book a free consultation with me using the links below. 

1. Is Family Therapy Just for Dysfunctional Families?

Absolutely not! While families experiencing conflict can benefit greatly, counseling is much more than crisis intervention. Think of it as a proactive way to strengthen communication, build understanding, and navigate life's challenges together. Whether you're facing blended family dynamics, parenting struggles, or simply want to deepen family bonds, with new ways of effective communication, therapy can empower your family to thrive. Even healthy relationships can benfit from talking in a non-judgmental environment with a professional therapist. 

2. Do We All Have to Participate in Family Therapy?

While involving everyone is ideal, therapy adapts to fit your family's unique needs. Parents, siblings, or individual members can participate depending on the situation. Therapists create safe spaces for each voice to be heard and understood, even if not everyone is present in every session. In my opinion, though, the process goes better if the entire family can meet at least for the first time or until the therapy plan has been created. 

3. How Long Does Family Therapy Last?

The duration depends on your individual needs and goals. Some families experience significant improvements at home a few sessions after they've started, while others may benefit from longer-term support. Therapists work with you to develop a plan that meets your family's unique pace and needs.

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