When families come into my office, there are often feelings of suspicion, hurt, betrayal and other painful feelings that they bring in with them. In addition there are topics that each member knows will be discussed that have not been talked about out in the open before. It takes courage for a family to come to therapy and to be willing to face one another and discuss topics that may hurt or initially feel embarrassing.
The first question that I each family member is “If the sessions go well and they feel that therapy was a good use of their time, what is different for them?” Often people will say “I won’t feel ……….”. I encourage them to imagine what they will feel. It is important to know what each of them is longing to be different. I am also curious about the incident that finally brought everyone into therapy? In addition I asked who is an ally and which family member does each family member feel the most vulnerable around? How does this impact what happens at home? Families are the lens with which we learn to operate out in the world. Our original defenses and vulnerabilities are usually developed and first expressed within the context of the family. These same vulnerabilities and defenses can also be healed and transformed in the context of family therapy.
A wise person once said that no matter how tempting, we can’t give up on our families. No matter where we go or how far away, we carry them around inside.
Jeannette York, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist