My Approach

My therapeutic approach is warm, nurturing, compassionate, and non-judgmental. I believe in the healing power of relationships and wish to create a trusting therapeutic relationship with my clients.

I serve families, couples, and individuals of various ages. I utilize a variety of family therapy approaches and techniques, tailored specifically to each particular client’s needs. I am a trauma-informed therapist. Bowenian family therapy concepts are at the foundation of my philosophy. I conceptualize issues through an attachment lens. I primarily utilize Emotion-Focused (experiential), Internal Family Systems, Narrative, and Structural interventions in my work.

Many of my therapeutic interventions are derived from an evidence-based practice called Internal Family Systems (IFS). Also known as “parts work,” IFS suggests that individuals are made up of various “parts” or subpersonalities, and we are not one unitary identity as we often view ourselves to be. An individual’s various parts (derived from our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and body sensations) can be thought of as different individuals that exist internally and have different wants, needs, and emotions. These subpersonalities are often in conflict with each other. Let me offer an example, one from my own experience.

​Getting out of bed in the morning is difficult for me. Always has been. Once I’m up I’m fine but pulling myself out of bed when my alarm goes off is just so hard! There is a part of me that wants to get up early, and be up before the rest of the household, and be organized and on top of it and totally prepared to start the day! Then there’s another other part of me that wants to stay under the covers, warm and protected. Just five more minutes without stress, without responsibility! My ‘On Top Of It’ part wants me to get out of bed and get going so that I can be successful in tackling the day, and my ‘Stay in Bed’ part wants me to relax and keep sleeping and give myself as much rest as possible. So the question is, which part is going to lead? Will I stay in bed or will I get up early? If I get up early another part will probably emerge, that one that tells me I’m a total winner and super awesome for being so on top of it! If I stay in bed, the part of me that feels inadequate will probably emerge and will start telling me that I don’t quite add up as a responsible adult, a good parent, whatever. My ‘On Top of It’ part and my ‘Stay in Bed’ part and my ‘Winner’ part and my ‘Inadequate’ part all have different wants, needs, thoughts and motivations, and would like to direct my behavior in certain ways to get their own needs met (needs they believe would benefit me as all of my parts are always working on my behalf).

One goal of IFS is to identify and acknowledge which parts are activated for you in various situations and what it is that each part is wanting for you, and why. In addition, IFS aims to formally introduce you to your core Self, an aspect of you that is not a part but the calm, compassionate, curious core of your identity that is able to be clear, connected, and nurturing to your internal parts and to others. The ultimate goal of IFS is to allow you to tap into your core Self whenever you want to, allowing you to be welcoming and compassionate to all of your parts, and to operate from an intentional, reassured place. In reference to my example above, my Self might weigh in and say to my various parts, “I hear you all and I hear that you want the best for me. I understand that you are all trying to protect me in various ways. Thanks for looking out for me. I am going to make a decision about when I will get up that is beneficial for myself/us and the household and the day will progress as it will. Regardless, I/we are capable of taking things as they come.”​

Parts work is helpful for any issue but I especially like to use it with individuals and families who are struggling with relationship transitions such as break-ups, divorce, separation, and co-parenting. These types of transitions elicit so many emotions, many of which seem contradictory; I love you, I hate you, I’m better off without you, I can’t live without you, it’s your fault, it’s my fault, and on and on and on. These are all different parts with different wants and needs, and they all have valuable opinions. My aim in therapy is to acknowledge all of these voices and differentiate them from your calm, collected core Self so that you are more able to respond thoughtfully to challenging situations, as opposed to reacting.​

In therapy I combine my knowledge of marriage and family therapy theory and practice and my designation as a Child Mental Health Specialist with my own experience as a divorced parent which allows me to bring a unique combination of empathy, compassion, and knowledge to this work. I enjoy assisting folks in navigating/formulating diverse family structures including multiple households, blended families, and intentionally alternative families as I am influenced by Queer Theory and like to exist outside of the box.

Contact Today



4531 SE Belmont Suite 203
Portland, OR 97215

afettmanfamilytherapy@gmail.com
(971) 804-0148

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