Family therapy identifies unseen influences that family members have on each other, enhancing each member’s self-knowledge.
When the family is struggling, family therapy helps the group solve the struggle together. In the safety of the therapy room, parents and children talk as honestly as possible. They discover unseen influences on each other, how they speak, feel, or even act on behalf of each other. For example, a daughter may berate her father for working long hours, a frustration that the mother herself has long felt, but hasn’t expressed. Or, the father may fret over finances, while the mother appears unconcerned. When the family is struggling, family therapy helps the group solve the struggle together. In the safety of the therapy room, parents and children talk as honestly as possible. They discover their appears unconcerned. Once family therapy opens parental communication, the parents can negotiate the conflicts in their relationship. Then the children no longer need to repair their parents’ relationship, and are free to enjoy their childhoods.
Relinquishing Old Patterns
Talking together as a group summons up the parents’ childhood ghosts, phantoms that have haunted the family, unconscious forces that have held the family in their sway. One mother habitually lost her temper (just like her mother) and the father habitually withdrew in fear (just like his father), further enraging his wife. Recognizing this pattern gave both parents empathy for their partner and freed them to build a better marriage.
Therapy helps families face serious illness, death, or forced relocation, the kind of events that electrify the atmosphere, putting everyone on edge. Family meetings are a safe place to explore each member’s feelings and coping strategies, and communicate their support for one another.
Whatever brought them to therapy, the family will learn to enjoy their relationships instead of spoiling them under the influence of past problems. The recognition of latent influences emancipates family members from their common myths. Although individual therapy instills the deepest self-knowledge, family therapy can and does facilitate meaningful self-discovery and sometimes rapid change.