family balance = family harmony
In the course of our lives as individuals, we aspire to stay in balance, and we make the needed adjustments to achieve this goal. Families shift and adjust similarly though the family is a more complex system to balance, as parents and children need to work cooperatively to get back on track. For some families, feelings of stress and exasperation build up over time creating defensiveness, resentment, and a detached family dynamic. Other times, one or more family members develop emotional or behavioral problems that signal distress for all. If this sounds like your family, you are not alone. Your family can shift back to a more encouraging, connected, and harmonious style, and we are here to help.
As we all individually grow and change we experience success as well as hardship. Families respond to success with positive feedback, praise, and pride reinforcing family harmony and balance. Inevitably things change and struggles arise as the family shifts to resume the balance and harmony that was lost. How this shift occurs predicts how the problem either gets resolved, or gets worse. For some families, their efforts to restore balance are over-corrective/reactive where feelings of frustration and intolerance reinforce family imbalance. Parents and their children adopt a defensive reflex towards one another as feelings of anger, sadness, and shame become the rule vs. the exception. Personal responsibility and meaningful learning lessons are lost as the child or teen feels victimized, perceiving their parents as unfair and punishing. For many families, developing a reactive process occurs over time and as a result of ongoing stress such as: child/teen emotional problems, chronic poor grades, parenting differences, financial pressure, death/loss, and substance use. Any one of these difficulties can affect the family’s general mood and their ability to adaptively cope. Conversely, responsive problem solving skills as well as clearly communicated boundaries fosters stronger compliance as well as helps children meet expectations. Life lessons are learned and problems become opportunities for personal growth.
How We Help:
We work to undue the cycle of reactivity while helping establish new ways of communicating, setting boundaries, improving compliance, coping/expressing strong feelings, and re-establishing roles. Gaining insight into the feelings of hurt, worry, or concern that result in anger or resentment helps encourage healing on a deep level. For parents, fear and worry can often be expressed as anger, which for the child or teen, feels nothing like concern. Looking deeper allows parents and teens to gain greater insight into their thoughts feelings and behaviors, which they can authentically express. Parents learn to set clear boundaries and expectations so that their children can either make a good choice and meet expectations or cross a boundary thereby choosing a previously discussed consequence. The rules and expectations are known to all putting the responsibility on the children/ teens to decide a positive or negative outcome. This model takes a lot of the vitriol and reactivity out of the process, focusing more on encouraging self-responsibility, natural consequences, and positive learning experiences. In contrast, consequences strictly used for punishment sake will trigger a defensive reaction that will discourage self-responsibility. For the child or teen, feelings of anger and resentment become their focus blaming their parents for being unfair as the cycle of reactivity reinforces itself. Family therapy can help to break this cycle, giving way to a more collaborative, honest, and bond strengthening family experience.
Many families experience similar challenges, and sometimes struggle to seek help. The good news is that working with the struggling family has proven to be a very effective, powerful means of reducing symptoms, restoring strength, and redefining balance. Combining family therapy with individual therapy can enhance results considerably.
what to expect
Each family and situation is different, so family work will be based on the needs of each client. Through family therapy, our clients have learned:
- How to develop a defined yet flexible family model, providing both choices and limits to children and teens, while parent roles remain both supportive and strong
- Communication skills that increase understanding, empathy, and motivation for change
- Conflict Resolution skills that defuse negative interactions while constructively encouraging the child or teen to meet goals and expectations