The world is not a perfect sphere and families do not have perfect dynamics.
Families are made up from different people with different agendas of their own.
You can choose your friends but not your family, so somehow you have to find a way to get along.
Sometimes issues may arise or one family member is having major problems that upset the equilibrium of the family.
Some families may never learn how to live together well because the family has been toxic to those involved; it may be what we classically call a dysfunctional family.
When I say family I am using the broad sense of the word and I mean those relatives who are living together, which mean heterosexual, gay, blended, second families or people in polyamorous relationships.
This also includes children at each stage of growth. Families are the gathering of individuals with common interests as group, legal or not.
I practise systemic family therapy and may ask all of the family to attend family sessions or certain elements of the family where the disharmony may lie.
The aim of systemic family therapy is to assist those involved in finding new ways of communicating in order to establish a working family where harmony can be installed.
Sometimes certain members of the family may refuse to attend a session, as is their right.
Other times certain family members will flatly deny that the disharmony is anything to do with them at all and everyone else can sort things out, in which case even an individual can come into therapy to help start to sort out the family disharmony. Remember only from small acorns can an oak tree grow.
The greatest enemy of family disharmony is apathy – when you think someone else should or ought to fix things or the problem is someone else’s. It not, because if you are a member of that family you have a duty and responsibility to the family unit so you can have the power to change things.
Maybe you do not want to change things; perhaps it suits you that things are just as they are but do not fool yourself that your actions would not change things.
Part of family therapy is everyone in the family taking reasonability of their own behaviour and their interactions with others.
In therapy we teach shared responsibility and power as well as respect for everyone’s well-being and fulfilment.
We also spend time on teaching the family better communication skills; this is really important because poor communication is one of the major roots of family dysfunction.
Systemic family therapy is not about finding fault with individuals or blaming anyone for the disharmony but about how to help families go forward in a positive, constructive way.
Families can have beautiful relationships that support those within as they go forward into life.
When a family is working well, it is a beautifully wholesome relationship in which to be involved, no matter what your position in the family.
If you have never experienced this in your family it is possible to teach this way of living to you family – if the members involved are willing to work to make that happen.
I also offer marriage and relationship counselling.
Book your appointment with Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH by calling 02 8021 6429.
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BHSc, ND, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist. Counsellor, PACFA registered Mental Health Professional and Naturopath In Sydney. You can get help by booking an appointment with her at Australian Health & Education Centre.