by: Tammy Stoner LCSW
If there is one truism today, it is that the family has changed, and
it has changed dramatically. We are complicated. The image of 1955,
complete with the nuclear family as portrayed in the old television
show, Leave it to Beaver, just doesn't exist. Not even close.
Don't get me wrong, there are some of these nuclear families
consisting of Mom, Dad and children born to the same Mom and Dad
today, it's just that they are in diminishing supply.
Today the very definition of what constitutes a family is much
In fact sometimes I wonder if we even know how to describe the
"family". There are the "old fashioned nuclear families" originating
from days gone by, and there are single parent families, step
families, blended families, adopted families, and on and on.
Today children are raised in a variety of constellations, and the
clinical tools available to formulate assessments, has not kept up
with the changing family. There is a shortage of treatment tools,
and models to explore the changing family.
Speak to any marriage and family therapist, and they can tell you
stories of men and women married 3, 4, 5,6, 7 times. Sometimes they
aren't married when they have children, they just have children from
a partner. Hence we now have words such as "my baby's daddy", or "my
baby's mommy", as a part of mainstream culture.
Each parent may have a child from a variety of partnerships; some
were husband and wife, some not. It's not easy describing the
multitude of constellations, even in this article. It's even more
difficult tracking it in a treatment session.
Monica McCormick has made some wonderful contributions in exploring
the genogram in families. She has helped provide treatment providers
with a model to explore the family, and to map out these
relationships through symbols such as x's and dashes and circles and
squares, all adding to the ease in reading these relationships.
Unfortunately the model is limited. It is one dimensional and flat.
It is formulated on a piece of paper, and usually the 8 ½ x 11
standard sheet of paper just isn't large enough to track the
information. They are difficult relationships to remember for a
We are desperately in need of new models. Models that move beyond
the flat, one dimensional model of the genogram. We need models that
"bring to life" these relationships. We need models that can be
shaped and moved, and remembered by treatment providers. We need
models that give depth to treatment sessions.
I have originated a model applying teddy bears in sessions. I don't
claim to have all of the answers, but I do claim to have developed
the fastest model available to clinicians today. It organizes teddy
bears into the family system. It allows for a fluctuating family
system, and it can be molded, sculpted and changed, as the family
Teddy Bears have demonstrated remarkable results with clients in
individual, family and group treatment sessions. I am not speaking
about holding a teddy bear, and talking with it for comfort. That
works, and there is certainly nothing new about that. After all,
teddy bears are known to provide comfort to people.
I am speaking about a method that moves beyond providing comfort,
and takes the clinical knowledge we have learned, and organizes it
into a living, moving family system that generates fast results in
sessions. I call the model the Teddy Bear Technique®. It's called a
technique, because that is what it is. It is a method that you can
utilize to get fast results with people originating from a variety
of family systems, and it applies teddy bears in it's process.
The great feature of teddy bears applied in this model, is that they
are appealing to everybody. They are one of the first objects an
infant attaches to, and as such, they are natural objects for
attachment. They can quickly reach the heart of the matter. It is
such a shock to have a treatment provider introduce a teddy bear in
a session, that that in and of itself creates an immediate shift in
the session. Organize it into the family, and you will give it
depth. You will also gain a powerful and dramatic assessment tool,
that gives you fast results.
I invite you to learn more about this model, and it's effectiveness
with people of every age, race and socioeconomic group. I have
organized the teachings into a total toolkit to provide you with
rapid assessments and interventions. I invite you to visit my
www.interactiveteddybears.com Copyright © March 8 2007
About the Author
Tammy Stoner is a licensed clinical social worker and trained family
therapist. She developed the Teddy Bear Technique® following the
sudden and unexpected death of a spouse and discovered a very fast
method of generating treatment results when exploring family
systems. She has organized the model into a toolkit for health care
professionals. She has authored a book called The Seven Minute
Social Worker, and has published many articles. She has been
featured on television and radio, and in newspapers throughout the
Tammy Stoner LCSW