If we speak about family, the basic building block of our life, we always mention our own, the one we wish we had, or perhaps the one we regret having.
Family is therefore a concept, in which reality (our real family that we grew up in) collides with fantasy (our dream family). Let us admit to ourselves: Did we not all wish to grow up in a different family at some point? To have different parents? Did we not, at least once, call ourselves the “black sheep” of the family?
That is what this is about. Two directions collide in a family. The first one is about the group, where we feel like members of a whole (this is our family with its customs, secrets, rituals etc.), the second one is about relationships with other family members (father, mother, sister, brother, etc.).
Being reminded, that “family” is a whole, is particularly important in family counseling sessions. If one unit is not functioning well, the whole will not function either. I am often approached by families with their “black sheep” – and older child – that they label a “disgrace to the family”, “the sick one”, or “the problem of the family”. However, we must acknowledge that this child is only carrying the weight of the dysfunctional system – the family. Therefore, it is not only the child’s problem. The aim of psychological family counseling is to free the labeled family member of the burden of being “the problem” and establish new communication rules among the family members.
There is a need to make the others realize their responsibility and take over their assigned roles. Last, but not least, we might have to open Pandora’s box and reveal sometimes year-long family secrets, or truths, that we did not dare mention before.
Throughout sessions I help families going through crisis such as frequent arguments, problems communicating, families that have a child in puberty, or even those, that had a difficult experience and struggle to cope with it (a death in the family, illness, divorce, addiction etc.). I also aid mixed families, where we adjust to the existence of a new couple and establish new family rituals, so that everyone can feel comfortable.
For this to work, all family members must co-operate and realize that they are doing this not only for the family, but for themselves too.