I am a MEDIATOR and a FAMILY THEPAPIST
There are similarities and differences between the two. As a Family Counselor, the conflicts between family members often result from a CLOSED FAMILY SYSTEM .
A “CLOSED “ System is where the family is stuck in their pattern of communication. Often this is a pattern where either as a spouse or as a child, you feel impotent.
You feel incapable of “impacting ’’ the person who has the power.
The individual who has the power in a family, tends to not let others impact them. They avoid change at all costs ! Even if it causes pain and the feeling of rejection in other family members. They tend to be unbending when it comes to new ideas and new ways of relating to each other. One example is where a teen at 15, is still treated with the same restrictions as when they were 12 years old.
Helping a family become an OPEN System, means teaching them new patterns of relating.
Such as –
- Listening more, rather than always having to give advice and having the last word.
- Recognizing the “Developmental Stages” that each person in the family is in, is different for everyone.
- Learning to not take things so personally and not always make the issue about YOU and how you feel.
- Being open to receiving advice and constructive criticism.
An OPEN FAMILY SYSTEM means:
- Forgiving each other.
This promotes HEALING and EMOTIONAL MATURITY.
Family counseling is focused on the family’s communication patterns and style of relating to one another. It is also centered around the emotions that a family contains. Every family has an emotional focus, that is an emotion that is revolves around. Some families use anger to control the environment and others use humor as a way to deal with conflict.
A therapist identifies the communication patterns and seeks to understand how this is preventing good communication.
We all get stuck in ways of relating to each other, and a family is no different. Families are often stuck in styles that are comfortable and familiar. But if you are yelling a lot, fighting and arguing often, then you are ‘’stuck’’ in your safe pattern. This is very dysfunctional !
One example would be a family that uses ‘shame ‘ to motivate each other to follow the rules.
Whereas a healthier way to relate would be communication built on honesty and forgiveness.
Families come in for a variety of reasons: parenting challenges, a child that may be ‘acting out’, divorce, blended family issues and the difficulties and transitions related to re-marriage. One of the many goals I see as a Psychotherapist, is:
- To get to the issues quickly and determine the goals of the family.
- To ‘open ‘ the lines of communication, vs. being stuck in a ‘closed’ system.
- Helping each other learn to not take things so personally, and not react from old patterns.
- Strengthening the various dyads and subsystems in the family.
- And lastly, learning how to listen and talk less. This is an art, but possible to accomplish.