Family Inclusion in Therapy
We humans can be prone to externalizing or projecting our challenges and struggles onto others, believing others or circumstances are the reason for our feelings of discontentment.
For parents who have not addressed their emotional wounds, they will often find such triggers mirrored back to them in their children. The American Tibetan Buddhist Pema Chodron stated,
“Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know”.
Well now….doesn’t that just hit home when you look at your own enduring and dysfunctional familial patterns of behaviour (insert a healthy self-deprecating laugh here). Let’s face it: ourselves and our families all carry emotional baggage. Oftentimes the baggage we lug around isn’t even our own. Wolynn (2016) asserts that the impact of our familial traumatic legacies plays a far greater role in our emotional and physical health than many of us realized. An aboriginal world view emphasizes our interconnectedness. A Western world views tends to favour independence. What we now know through scientific research is that our families experiences have much to teach us about ourselves – we are interconnected through behavioural epigenetics (for more on this see: https://blacksheepcounselling.com/2017/04/behavioural-epigenetics/). A child does not develop emotional and psychological challenges all on their own. Family members – even those estranged or deceased – play an important role in the current issues that may seem to only be presenting in a singular person. This isn’t about placing blame and shame, but rather, fostering understanding, healing, and resiliency.
When we move a child’s struggles from a “you” issue to a “we” issue, we move from focusing on the problem to focusing on a solution – one that cannot just assist in the here-and-now, but can help foster better ways of being for subsequent generations.
Family therapy can produce a gift that keeps on giving!
Banich, M. T., & Compton, R. J. (2017). Cognitive neuroscience (4th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Bowen, M. (1978). Family therapy in clinical practice. New York, NY: Jason Aronson.
Szyf, M. (2013 July 27). Epigenetics of early life adversity: The implication for mental health. Brain Development & Learning Conference. UBC Interprofessional Education.
Wolynn, M. (2016). It didn’t start with you: How inherited family trauma shapes who we are and how to end the cycle. New York, NY: Viking.