Family Therapy

In the past our nuclear family consisted of a married couple and their children and in a perfect world everyone was happy and healthy and resolved issues as they arose in a constructive manner. This has not completely disappeared but there have been some changes. Our nuclear family has changed over time with divorce rates simmering over 50% in some Provinces. There are more and more single parent families emerging in all our communities. This creates new challenges for parents and their children.

Family therapy can help redefine roles and maintain or establish new relationships. Family therapy can also help families resolve issues. Having someone to mediate and guide the discussion helps families put issues into perspective. Often we fail to see others perspective as we are too emotionally charged to take notice. A trained therapists can help families work through the emotion evoked from the discussions and create an environment for positive change within family members.

Family Dynamics

Nichols and Schwartz (2004) explain that families are subsystems that are structured according to generation, gender, and function. These systems are separated by interpersonal boundaries, which are unseen barriers that determine how much contact individuals have with one another. When boundaries do not protect subsystems properly, interpersonal skills are underdeveloped. Boundaries also help us with problem solving because it allows us to determine whether the issue belongs to us or someone else.

A lack of boundaries between generations means that there is also a lack of hierarchy within the family (Becvar & Becvar, 2000). A hierarchical structure where parents are in a position of power or leadership is determined by clear boundaries (Nichols & Schwartz, 2004).

Clear boundaries and hierarchies also aid in the establishment of roles. Every member of a family has a specific role; however, when boundaries change so do the roles.

Our development is a lifelong process. From birth we begin a journey filled with exploration and discovery. Many aspects will influence our development throughout this journey. Our family of origin is one aspect that can influence our development and shape who we are and who we will become.  This development however, is not always positive. Many families struggle with unresolved issues and this can create problems in their development.

Our past contributes to who we are and how we are but it does not have to define who we are and how we will be. We can accept the past for what it is and move forward and write our own, unique story.

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