NYC Therapist Talks presents– Family therapy in New York
What is it that brings people to family therapy? Most often it is how we are feeling about ourselves. We feel depressed, stressed out, angry, lonely, just to name a few. But we are never alone in these feelings. When we go to a see a therapist for our problems, we bring a group of people along with us- our family- whether they're in the room or not. They follow us into the therapist’s office. Very often a relationship with our family is the basis for why we are upsetting ourselves. We are not getting along with our partner, child, sibling or parent. Our relationships with our family often forces us to look at ourselves and our own behavior. Sometimes we realize, on our own, that we need help when our relationships are not working. Sometimes it is others who tell us that we need help. Sometimes it is our relationships themselves which are in need of help.
In family therapy, we find some of our relationship conflicts have been going on for years. For example, family members, especially adult siblings, can have intense feelings that began when they were very young children. Those feelings which may have been normal and appropriate when they were children do not work for grown adults who are supposed to be mature. However, many of us find ourselves in situations with siblings where we begin to feel the same childlike feelings we felt many years ago. When a client comes into the office for family therapy and tells me that they are not getting along with their sibling, I listen to their story. They tell me how they feel hurt by their adult sibling who might have called them names, did not respect them and treated them badly.
When they are finished with expressing their pain, I ask the client a question: Can you change your sibling? Can you change the way your sibling behaves? The answer is almost always no. I then ask the client: Can you change yourself? Can you change the way you behave when you feel that your sibling is trying to hurt you? The answer is usually yes. I then ask the client: What can you do to change yourself so that your sibling’s behavior will not hurt anymore, because that hurt comes from inside, not really from your sibling? At this point, the client can begin to take back some control over their emotional state. He or she is not the vulnerable child but a mature adult. The client then is able to come up with very practical and concrete ideas to change the way that they are thinking about the situation with their sibling and are now on the way to being able to handle it in a more positive way.
The importance of relationships, with siblings or anyone else, cannot be underestimated. We are all connected to others in some way. Finding ways to work out our problems is necessary to stay connected and have healthy and happy relationships and the goal of family therapy. If you’re interested in trying family therapy to work on identifying the beliefs that keep you upsetting yourself, and working on ways increasing the happiness in your life, email Mona@mytherapistnewyork.info or schedule online.