Parent-child conflict/Psychosexual difficulties/Communication disorders/Childhood traumas/Work and school related problems/ Transitional stages of family development/Traumatic life events /Pre-marital counselling
Better understanding how family functions
Identifying strengths and weaknesses within the family system
Setting goals and devising strategies to resolve problems
Developing communication skills
Making the entire family unit stronger
My family counselling is based on Systemic Family Therapy aproach. The theory introduced by Dr. Murray Bowen that suggests that individuals cannot be understood in isolation from one another, but rather as a part of their family, as the family is an emotional unit. Families are systems of interconnected and interdependent individuals, none of whom can be understood in isolation from the system.
According to Bowen, a family is a system in which each member had a role to play and rules to respect. Members of the system are expected to respond to each other in a certain way according to their role, which is determined by relationship agreements. Within the boundaries of the system, patterns develop as certain family member's behavior is caused by and causes other family member's behaviors in predictable ways. Maintaining the same pattern of behaviors within a system may lead to balance in the family system, but in other instances dysfunction. For example, if a husband is depressive and cannot pull himself together, the wife may need to take up more responsibilities to pick up the slack. The change in roles may maintain the stability in the relationship, but it may also push the family towards a different equilibrium. This new equilibrium may lead to dysfunction as the wife may not be able to maintain this overachieving role over a long period of time.
There are eight interlocking concepts in Dr. Bowen's theory: triangles; differentiation of self; nuclear family emotional system; marital conflict; dysfunction in one spouse; impairment of one or more children; emotional distance; family projection process; multigenerational transmission process; emotional cutoff; sibling position; societal emotional process.
FST tends to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members. It emphasizes family relationships as an important factor in psychological health. The most known instrument used in FST is family genogram – a graphical picture of the family, helping users to identify patterns of behavior and dysfunctions that need to be addressed.
The most important aspects for me as practitioner: unlike conventional psychological theory which focuses on the individual, Family Systems Theory encourages people to think of issues (e.g. marital conflict, depression, addiction, acting-out teenagers, difficult relationships, loneliness, etc.) in terms of a multi-generational family or a “system.” Also this approach encourages people to move away from blaming others and towards individual responsibility.
Family counselling will typically take place in the form of sessions in which individuals and their loved ones will be brought together with a family counsellor to discuss the issues that are affecting their relationships. These sessions - and the family therapy techniques used - will be adapted according to the therapy goals and the ages, needs, resources and preferences of the individuals involved. Sessions involving children for example may include drawing and play exercises to help them express their emotions in a more creative and engaging manner.