In my practice as a systemic psychotherapist I have noticed that I am seeing more adult family groups typically 2 or 3 siblings with parents. This has started me reflecting on why this should be and various other things.
Sometimes the person making the enquiry has been in individual therapy and has reflected on a need to have some family therapy. This can mean that the referrer has a clear idea of what they’d like to get out of therapy and is dragging along some less enthusiastic family members.
So when someone makes contact to ask about therapy for a family group I’m always interested to know how the others feel about it. In a sense it could be said it’s about the ‘problem of the referring person’. In families there are multiple perspectives and these are brought into therapy, old patterns, hurts, roles and rivalries can immerge as families struggle to form a new narrative that includes past and present but also focuses on future hopes of the relationships. For these reasons therapy may not happen immediately.
In systemic work old redundant roles that no longer fit can be abandoned and rewritten, this change’s the way family members relate and new understandings are born. This may be liberating for some and more challenging for others –there is comfort in the ‘known’.
One of the challenges of working with adult family groups can be getting through the door. Therapy and mental health awareness is seen as positive for this generation, however in the past it was not necessarily seen in the same way. Older generations therefore can be more cautious about taking this step. It’s important to emphasise that we are not exploring or apportioning blame but rather thinking about family functioning to improve for now and for the next generation by modelling the willingness to attend and listen to each other, rethink roles and responsibilities and reflect on what you would like.