Family life can be a place filled with love and connection, fun and excitement, as well as a safe comfortable place for everyone to return to after work/school. Unfortunately, family life can also be a pressure-cooker of complex emotions and seemingly impossible situations, which can lead to a huge source of pain and suffering for all involved. It really makes perfect sense when you think about sharing a household with multiple people, along with the never-ending growing pains of children across the lifespan (physically and emotionally).
Family life has been described by Murray Bowen in his Family Therapy approach as an emotional system, in which everyone is intimately interconnected to each other and can affect each other in positive and negative ways (see the Family Systems Institute website for more details, if interested) During times of calm, each family member can operate more freely as an individual and gain support and recharge when they return to the family. During times of stress and pressure, we naturally become more sensitive and reactive to each other’s emotions and behaviours. If this lasts for too long, the stress and pressure can shape relationships in the family as well as the general atmosphere in the household in problematic ways.
I feel grateful to work with families when they are struggling to keep afloat, as it can get better when you are able to step out of the emotional intensity of the household, and slow things down as a family. I can connect with my own times when I feel like I am drowning in family life, and times when I find myself rising up for air and seeing things clearer. I have learnt a lot (and continue to) about what it takes to survive those times of drowning, while appreciating and cultivating those times of feeling above water.
Whether you decide to come in as a whole family or only bring part of your family (e.g., parents alone), family therapy can offer a place to slow down and see each other without the competing daily pressures and start to remember the answers that are needed to resolve the issues that keep replaying in the house.
If any of this stuff resonates with you, please drop me a line.
From one parent to another…