The Relationship Clinic Counselling for Couples, Families and Teens
In Shoreditch, Liverpool Street, Central London

Why family therapy?

The adults in the family provide the blueprint by which the child grows from infancy to maturity. If male and female who were the child’s survival figures did not manage jointly, if their message to the child were unclear and contradictory, he/she will learn to communicate in an unclear and contradictory way. (Satir 1983).

Do you find it difficult to communicate openly with other members of your family?
Do you feel there is tension amongst members of the family that you can’t explain?
Do members of your family argue a lot?
Do you experience some family members as withdrawn, angry, depressed or stubborn?
Do you feel the emotional climate in your family has become very cold?
Do you feel unable to reach out to members of your family and did your family members become distant?
If you can answer at least one of these questions with yes, then it is very likely that your family has become disharmonious or even dysfunctional.

I practice systemic family therapy which aims to look at the family as a system and look at what is going on that is in the way of using the family strength more fully and feeling connected and supported by other family members.
I will help you to understand your family script, which is an is an internal structure of beliefs and assumptions that result from life experiences.

What is Family Therapy?. Library Image: Footsteps in Sand

What could lead to dysfunction in families?

Lifecycles and transitions?
Every family has live cycles and periods of transitions, for example a new life cycle begins when the children move out of the family home. When grandparents die, a previous lifecycle has ended and often a new one begins.

Minuchin (1974) suggests that during transitions, the family needs to maintain continuity and take care of family members’ development. If the continuity is not maintained and some family members are not supported, the family can easily become disharmonious or dysfunctional, which means that some functions that the family has, become disabled.

Transgenerational trauma
The trauma experienced by one generation can be transferred onto the next generation. For example, the trauma of the generation that grew up during or after World War 2, who often experienced multiple losses of family members, imprisonment and torcher, poverty and homelessness.

Family Dynamics:
Emotional and physical abuse can lead to victimisation and loss of self -esteem, relational trauma, PTSD in the victim of abuse and can create a family dynamic that Karpman (1968) calls the ‘drama triangle’, where different family members play the rescuer, the persecutor and the victim. Karpman says that if people move around on the drama triangle, they are resisting change. When children are emotionally abused, they often have to play the role of the scapegoat.

Bradshaw (1996) calls the scapegoat a symptom and service-bearer as it often drives the family into treatment. He further says that a child can become the scapegoat for all the unexpressed anger or pain in the family.

Morse-Brown (2017) concluded that a risk in inharmonious families who don’t speak to each other is that children might feel devastated and split into many fragments. They often associate with one side but feel anxious that they are like the other side.

Satir (1967) writes that when the parents argue, the child often takes on that conflict herself and that if one family member shows a symptom that is due to pain, everyone in the family feels the pain somehow. The person who carries the pain becomes the ‘Identified Patient’ or IP.
She also suggests that the marital relationship is the blueprint from which other relationships are formed and that pain in this relationship leads to dysfunction. She further says that the IP is usually the family member who feels the pain most intensively.

What is Family Therapy?. Library Image: New Growth Leaf

How I work with families?

The aim of the first session is to make the family feel as welcome as possible, to clarify questions and agree ground rules.

The next step would be to listen to the whole family about how each of you sees the problem. To help you to share as a family, I facilitate an open dialogue introducing a framework of communication. I will provide your family with a safe structure, that helps you to be able to share more freely. Bottled up tension will be released; family members feel more comfortable to share issues that they have withheld for a long time.

My knowledge of systemic family therapy helps me to view the presenting problems in your family in the context of the family, rather than as a problem that belongs to the individual. It will help you to understand various family dynamics and how to resolve conflicts and help your family to move towards a harmonious family life again.
By thinking systemically, I can help you to see the presenting symptom or problem as a message from your child, expressing that the family it comes from has become dysfunctional. This can turn any negative perception that you might hold about the symptom of your child into deep empathy for your child, who has found no other way of communicating the message other than turning it into a symptom for example into depression, anxiety or psychosomatic illnesses.

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