How Couple and Family Therapy are Unique in Austin, TX

How are family and couple therapy different in Austin?

Austinites relish the legacy of small-town funk they've cultivated in a big-town state. I say "they" instead of "we," because I admit that it is a legacy I've inherited, rather than one to which I have contributed. I like to think that my funkiness will eventually add value to this city, but, for now, I endure the scorn of fellow Austinites who begged people to stop moving here long before I arrived. Austin is changing. Some folks disdain the change, pointing to pockets of Austin that housed their neighbors and friends for years before investors transformed those neighborhoods into swanky bars and dives. 

I like to think that Austin still retains its charm.

Having grown up in South Texas, I know something of what Austin used to be, and I still find it walking down 6th street with a multicolored beard and a unicycle. I hear it singing from the open door of a musky tavern. Despite how some rightly fear that the Austin culture is losing its unique charm, I discover it hiding in the last places I would expect.

Like my office.

My type of work is unique. Thousands upon thousands of counselors and therapists are released into the wild every year with the hope that we can make a living doing what we love. You see them any time you search for a therapist online and discover a jumble of smiling faces and catchy paragraphs, all intended to capture your attention. Most of us are trained as professional counselors, social workers, or psychologists, all of which come from behavioral fields of psychotherapy, in that they focus on traditional methods of therapeutic change.  

That should not mean a whole lot to you if you are not familiar with the technical aspects of the profession. As a family therapist, I've taken a road that few of us travel because I believe strongly that behavioral and mental health challenges like depression and anxiety are often sustained, potentially created by, and effectively treated within the context of our most important relationships

I know there's some controversy in this.

And I'm certainly not going to try and convince other professionals with different training  that I'm correct where they are wrong.  In fact, research demonstrates that a professional's approach has less to do with therapeutic outcomes that you might think.  

But I have seen some amazing change working with challenges in the context of  relationships. Professionals like me are the vast minority of practitioners out there.  But that's kind of how we like it. That's why I feel so at home in Austin. As a family and couple therapist trained to prioritize the role that relationships play in a person's behavioral, relational, and mental health, I work within a framework that is small enough to be unique, yet large enough to be noticed. 

It's a small-town funk in a big-city business.

But I believe in what I do. I've seen too many hopeless folks find new resilience. I've seen crumbling marriages renew themselves. I've witnessed men whose anger no longer consumes them, and I've watched women step out of crushing perfectionism.  All of this, I've seen emerge from within the power of relationships. It may be a unique perspective, but I know that probably means I'm in the right place.

Dr. Mathis Kennington