Happy Holidays!

First I want to apologize for this unedited blog. My editor and good friend Teri Couch is celebrating the holidays. I am dyslexic so please be kind and just hear the words and not see the imperfections!


I remember some 23 years ago our son was scheduled for his second open heart surgery. He was ten years old and in the 5th grade. As I stood waiting him to come out of school, one of the mothers approached me.

She had tears in her eyes and said, please come with me to my car. She explained that she had felt so bad for our family, and could not imagine what we were going through.

So… she had made us a weeks worth of meals! I remember being so overwhelmed by this act of kindness. At that moment I felt so validated, that this mother had the courage to walk in my shoes for a few moments that afternoon.

Helen Skovran

Happy Holidays from,
Serving individuals, children and families since 1997.

PS, Thank you Deb F.



Recently, I have been working with caregivers and their families. Although most caregivers have a family system, it seems to always come down to two members of the system — the person in need of the care (the patient) and the caregiver. It is always difficult for the caregiver to factor in their own needs when their needs conflict with the demands of the patient. The needs of the caregiver are just as important as the needs of the patient. If the caregiver continuously pushes their needs aside, they will become angry and resentful towards the patient, which will certainly affect the quality of care given.
My caregiver guidelines:
The caregiver’s needs are just as important as the patient’s needs. 
Self-care is very important for the caregiver. If you are good the patient will be good.
• All difficult decisions only need to include the needs of the caregiver, their immediate family system and the patient.
 Family members not directly involved in the patients care do not need to be considered in decisions that will have no impact on them. 

When the needs of the caregiver and the patient are in conflict, the needs of the caregiver must always come first.
• Respite, a short period of rest or relieve from something difficult or unpleasant, will be what you need most and the most difficult to do.
 Try to understand when seeking respite, this is part of giving good care to the patient and must be taken. 

Feeling guilty because you are taking a break from your caregiving duties is better than anger and resentment towards the patient, which you will undoubtedly feel if no respite is taken.
Seek help, from someone outside of your family system.
 A family therapist, a social worker or a caregiver group will help you find peace during this very difficult journey.


Full Circle

Today’s blog is personal.

Recently I had an issue with a client’s insurance, and I requested the assistance of the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office. After the review was completed, I received an email from Tom (a rep in the AG’s office) stating they were going to take my case and he would be in touch. Weeks later I received a notice from Tom, along with a letter from the insurance company stating the issue had been resolved in my favor – well, really my client’s favor.

It was at this point I realized Tom’s name looked very familiar to me. I called to thank him for his assistance and inquired if he had been with the Attorney General’s Office in July of 1999 — his reply was yes! I told him this was the second time he had assisted me.

In 1999, my son, David, was scheduled to have experimental open-heart surgery at Michigan Children’s Hospital. Three days before we were scheduled to fly to Michigan, our insurance company informed us they had found an “in-network doctor” in Boston who thought he could do the procedure, and they would not cover the surgery in Michigan. Frantic, I took to the Blue Pages of the phone book and called the Attorney General’s Office. We were assigned to Tom. He was very kind to me back then, the issue was resolved and within 24 hours, we were off to Michigan. He remembered my story and was happy to find my son doing well, married with a son of his own. I was able to thank him again!

It is strange how things come full circle. I went into this field because of my experience as a mother of a child with a life-threatening illness. In 1999, there were no therapeutic services for our family after we were discharged from the hospital. In my early years as a young family therapist, I tried to bring this service to families but was unable to get a program up and running, so I gave up. Although, in my practice at THE FAMILY THERAPY CENTER LLC,  I always have one or two families with this issue, and I also follow a few families on social media and find this venue to be very therapeutic for them.

Recently, a local pediatric office became very interested in the TFTCC and wants to collaborate with us. As luck would have it, the Director for The University of Saint Joseph’s Marriage & Family Therapy program is launching a Medical Family Therapy component to the program, and I happen to have two interns from this program. I’m not sure where this is all going as we are just in the “talking phase” of this project; however, it seems that now, 20 years later and at the end phase of my career, things are coming full circle!

Marriage Therapy


The most important relationship in your life will be with your spouse. When a couple is married their fist family system’s task is to build a boundary around their relationship. This can be a difficult task for some, if one or both members of the relationship are enmeshed with one or both of their parents. This process can take anywhere from one to seven years.

All newly married couples will carry an “exit card”,  for the first seven years of marriage. Eventually the couple needs to make the decision, to leave or stay in the marriage. Once the decision to stay is made and the “exit card” is off of the table, the relationship will move forward.

Every seven years (seven, fourteen, twenty one years), most relationships will encounter an issue or two.

The relationship, the in-between is what matters in the marriage, not the individuals in the relationship. The relationship is the sacred space the in-between, and needs to be treated as such. Everything the individuals’ say and or do must always be for the “good of the relationship”.

The relationship cannot tolerate: (not in any specific order)

treating your partner unkindly
the word divorce
a bad mood
an untreated mental illness
an untreated addiction
a bad day at work
texting another man/women
inappropriate behavior on social media
affairs, physical/emotional
putting another person and or thing first, for example:


All you say and all you do must always be for the good of the relationship. When you are not sure if you are treating the relationship as something sacred, simply ask yourself, will this add positive or negative energy to the relationship?

One must always treat the other with kindness. Before speaking to your partner, put your thoughts through “the relationship filter” making sure the words flowing out of your month have a kind tone. This will take practice, but like anything else the more you do it the easier it will become. Know that just because you have a thought in your head, it need not come out of you mouth!

The relationship must always come first, before your family of origin, your children, your work, and your friends. If one can accomplish this task, you will have a happy, healthy marriage!



“the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
Synonyms: change, passage, move, transformation, conversion, metamorphosis, alteration, handover, changeover; segue, shift, switch, jump, leap, progression; progress, development, evolution, flux”
“the transition from school to work”

When in a difficult time of transition, therapy (individual, and or family ) can be very helpful.

A rainbow, the transition from the storm to the sun.





The answer is yes if you follow these therapeutic guidelines I learned in Marriage and Family Therapy School and in my 20 years as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

1. We are all capable of having an affair. We live in a very judgmental society. When we hear of a friend whose spouse has had an affair, we quickly jump to the conclusion that the one having the affair is the bad partner and the one not having the affair is the good partner. This is not true; it takes three to have an affair.  An affair is a symptom, that the relationship has many serious issues.
2. Both have to buy into the above concept and be willing to treat each other and the marital relationship with empathy, kindness and forgiveness
3. The affair must be over.
4. Marriage Therapy has to be part of the recovery process; both must be committed to saving the marriage.
5. The Marriage Therapy sessions must be about the marital relationship only — not the affair.
6. Both need to understand the concept that it is about the in-between and the relationship which is broken, not the person who had the affair. Relationships are very sacred and fragile and need to be treated as such.
7. Both need to own their part in not treating their relationship as something sacred and putting it first above all other relationships.
8. All marital relationships at some point will enter a difficult place; this does not mean the marriage needs to end.
9. I learned in Marriage and Family Therapy school that a marriage may need to end if one of the three A’s is present in the relationship: An untreated addiction and/or mental illness, abuse — both physical and emotional and adultery -- an ongoing affair which one is not willing to give up.
10. Most therapeutically unhealthy marriages that should have ended, and I have witnessed many, continue to stay in the unhealthy marital relationship.
11. Most marriages that I have witnessed ending, and there have been many, may have been saved.


Helen Skovran MS LMFT

Founder, Director, Clinical Supervisor




Valentines Day

Healing thoughts:  Self-Compassion – This Valentine Day, love your self, “the greatest love of all”!

Oh My God!!!….Valentines day is upon us. Like Christmas,  It’s a special day when people demonstrate their love and receive love. For others, It can be the dreaded holiday to remind us just how lonely we feel.   It triggers sadness, rejection, emptiness, and can make some feel very disconnected.


What if I told you, you are not alone.  What if I told you, you can love yourself and all your warts!.  When we love our warts, it makes it easier to love others warts as well..It’s called compassion We all have this place within us Richard Schwartz calls “the self”.  This “self” is real.  It’s a place where one holds compassion and feels connected to ourselves and others. The self displays calm, clarity, courage, and confidence. It’s a place that holds our inner wisdom. If you take the time to listen to your inner voice, or “the self”, it can provide guidance and support. 


An analogy and recent quote from Alcoholics Anonymous demonstrates the self perfectly. “I promise to watch for every opportunity to turn toward my self for guidance  I know where this power is.: it resides within me, as clear as a mountain rook, hidden in the hills – it is the unsuspected Inner Resource”.


Why is self-love so important?  You will make better choices for yourself.  Without love for ourselves, we feel we don’t deserve, so we make choices from that place. If we don’t have self-compassion, we beat ourselves up like an abusive parent or partner. Having self-love and self-compassion, says, its’ OK.  We are human. We are born to be real, not perfect! If we were to talk to ourselves like we talk to our friends, we would not feel alone, sad or rejected.  We just might feel love! When we reject ourselves, we need others to make us feel loved.  Like Dorothy in the Wizard of OZ, we don’t need to go outside of ourselves to find the joy and peace that comes with loving.  We had it all along! How healing is that?


So on this Valentines Day give yourself the gift of self-compassion and self-love.  When you do, you have more compassion and love to give others.  Remember you can’t give what you don’t have!



As Whitney Houston says, “Loving yourself, is truly the greatest love of all” and the greatest gift you can give your self!


Happy Valentines Day !  pastedGraphic.pdf

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Georgie Sloate, LMFT

The Family Therapy Center, LLC

Help my child is graduating from High School!

Help my child is graduating from High School!

Since it is that time of year I would like to talk a bit about high school graduation. Here is what I know for sure:

It is up to the parents to launch the child into young adulthood. This is the most difficult task you will do as a parent.

Here is what we told our sons from the time they were in middle school, a lesson learned from my clinical supervisor the late Dr. Barbara Lynch; You have two choices when you graduate from high school:

1. You can leave and go to college,
2. You can leave.

The young adult needs to hear that you trust they will make this transition into adulthood.  There is a very short window of opportunity once one graduates from high school.

If they have no plan for after high school, chances are they will have no direction which may last well into their late 20′s. Setting clear boundaries with the young adult is crucial, otherwise you may have them living with you at 24, with no future ambitions, unemployed, out most of the night, and sleeping most of the day.


Holiday lessons I have learned from my many years as a Family Therapist.
I remember when I was a young therapist working with a couple that was around the age I am now. This couple had disclosed to me that over the holidays they would be in Italy.

As their children left the nest and started to build their own nests, the couple found themselves spending more holidays alone. Inspired by the movie “Skipping Christmas,” the couple started traveling over the holidays; and hence, set off their new holiday tradition. Honestly the wife stated, “We did not want to be a Christmas burden to our children. We understood our children had to create their own holiday traditions, and it was time to recreate ours.”

This family (parents and children) were in a transition. Transition (the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another) is always a difficult time for any family system. Most families seeking Family Therapy are in a state of transition.

Here are some lessons I have learned in Marriage & Family Therapy School:

· Our children are only ours for a very short time — if you have only lived your life for your children, this transition will be difficult.

· Your spouse is your life mate and your family. So on the holiday if it’s just the two of you, you are a complete family.

· One day your spouse will die and your family will no longer be complete so enjoy each other for this time is precious.

· If you are single, this transition will be a difficult journey for both the parent and the child. This is when the kindness of friends and family is so important.

· Creating a new young family system is a very difficult transition, one that can take up to five years.

· History most always repeats itself. We are role models for the next generation.

· Our parents will die one day, and we will miss them.

I like to imagine this ending for the family from long ago — By year five of skipping Christmas, their daughter invites them over for Christmas dinner or they are packing to go on one of those river cruises through Russia!

Either way it is all good.

May all of your transitions be filled with love and kindness bringing your family peace, hope and joy!,

Happy Holidays from all of us at THE FAMILY THERAPY CENTER LLC!

We would love to hear about some of your holiday transitions at www.thefamilytherapycenterllc.com.


Helen Skovran MS LMFT
Founder, Director & Clinical Supervisor
Serving the Bristol Community since 1997.

Children Remind Us to Treat Them With Care

Wash by Hand (Keep it soft)”

This is the message which was left for me by my 11-year-old daughter on top of one of her favorite blankets.

How innocent and cute. Kids have a way of assuming that you exist to answer their requests, to make their lives easier and better.

Depending on the day I have had, I can either receive such requests with a generous and loving heart or an annoyance. The day that I discovered the note on the blanket, I happened to have been in a more generous spirit. Perhaps it’s because with two oldest out of the house, I was not feeling so frazzled with demands.

When I saw the message, I smiled. I thought: ‘How sweet!’ How sweet for her to ask for special care for her blanket, as if it was for herself. And to explain, just in case I missed the point, why, “to keep it soft”.

Children remind us to treat them with special care in many ways, every day, and it is their job to keep asking. Apparently, till they are 25 or 30 depending on to whom you are talking. Apparently, they need much of this TLC good stuff from the outside until they are full inside and can access the stuff on their own. So their job is to ask and our job as parents is to provide. And why? So they in turn will stay soft and loving people.

It is the same with any relationship you value. You have to continuously feed it TLC, every day, in little and big ways to keep it “soft” and like new. Don’t treat it thoughtlessly even though it is tempting to take a short cut, because you are tired and don’t have much time or it is easier.

So even though no one will know if I throw the blanket in the washer and dryer without much much thought, I think I will give it the first class treatment my daughter requested!

If you are lucky enough to be reminded in such a sweet way to give your special attention to your special relationships, I hope you will indulge the one who asked!

Kyoung – Hi Dickson MA LMFT