Does It Feel Like Your Family Has Fallen Apart?

Is your family a war zone? Arparents hugging, little boy grabbing mother's leg and crying you constantly stressed trying to make one or another person fall into line so that the family can maintain its equilibrium? Family life is constantly in flux. There is always a challenge to be faced when one person acts independently, destabilizing the entire group. In these situations, others

feel unsupported or wronged in some way. Divided loyalties make it difficult to communicate complex feelings. The family becomes a battleground where everyone is fighting to survive.

Whether you are a newly blended family walking on eggshells to avoid conflict, an estranged family dealing with the death of a parent, or an empty nest family struggling to deal with a critical life transition, you might experience anxiety, tension, helplessness and loss. It’s likely that your tumultuous emotions are overwhelming.

Perhaps you are having trouble separating from a parent as you make a new life with a partner. Maybe you can’t let go of an ex-spouse or are afraid to let your children stay with grandparents because you don’t get along with them. The time may have come when the connections between you and other family members is so taut that they’re about to break.

You might be overwhelmed with co-parenting young children because you and your partner have very different experiences and views about child rearing. Your relationship with your children, your partner and parents may be strained such that it feels chaotic. One day you reach rock bottom, and feel like giving up.

You may be very worried about a family member who is at risk by abusing substances, turning anorexic, hoarding and or becoming a recluse. If you aren’t able to help, you are left with a great deal of fear, powerlessness and stress. You may not be able to persuade that person to get professional help, yet you continue to be affected. Your stress level goes through the roof and you feel out of control.

There might be times when you feel torn between being yourself and staying loyal to the family. Family members may experience your individuality and autonomy as a betrayal and put pressure on you to conform. When people ‘take sides,’ tension in the family becomes unbearable and can easily lead to fragmentation and estrangement.

Wrestling with family issues can be a stressful, frustrating and sometimes seemingly helpless experience. It might be that one person, such as your child or teen, is acting out and impacting the rest of the family. Or maybe your family has recently experienced trauma or a significant life transition, such as a loss, illness, divorce or the blending of families, and the change has everyone upset and wary of what comes next. You may be struggling to communicate and understand each other. Clashing views about who is responsible and increasing resentments can put everyone in a tailspin—resulting in insomnia, overeating or self-neglect.

Family Issues Are Extremely Common

bare foot stepping on broken glassIf your family is struggling to get along, you are far from alone. Family tensions are universal. It can be tough to make adjustments to normal life changes, such as growing up or getting old. Sometimes families experience a breakdown in the structure of mutual expectations that once held them together. The entire family is one step away from a crisis that could do permanent damage.

Add to that the addictions, mental health disorders, trauma, abuse and neglect that many families face, and family issues become the norm, rather than the exception. Every family brings into its orbit the previous generations’ histories. Families repeat behaviors that may reinforce trauma, loss and disorganization.

The good news is that regardless of the problems your family is facing, there is help and hope for repair. An experienced and skilled family therapist can help your family tolerate the feelings of guilt, shame, fear and anger that are bubbling under the surface. You may be trying desperately hard to keep it together so as not to rock the boat or cut off ties completely. In family therapy you get to address those fears and release some of the pent up emotions that have led to the impasse in your family life.

Family Counseling Provides You With Insight, Skills And Support

In secure, guided family therapy sessions, I’ll create a space in which everyone begins to let his or her guard down, without fear of reprisal, ridicule or loss. It’s often the case that family members agree on overall goals, such as how to take care of an elderly member of the group, but disagree on what roles each one plays. In safe family therapy sessions, all the expectations, disappointments, grudges, fears and longings get aired in a way that promotes understanding and collaboration. Together, we will explore who feels treated like a doormat, who is burdened, who is frightened and intimidated, who feels ignored or excluded and/or who feels misunderstood and blamed.

When you and your family members feel able to express thoughts and feelings without the fear of being interrupted, criticized or challenged, a meaningful conversation is born. We can look at strategies your family uses to deal with disharmony and examine when they work and when they are counterproductive. We can build on useful tactics and modify those that hamper goals.

parents yelling at dinner table with little boy with his fingers in his earsI understand that every family is different, which is why I’ll tailor-create a family therapy plan that best supports and addresses the issues, personalities, values and ages of your family members. Based on your needs, I can provide you with valuable skills that can be used to set appropriate boundaries, foster effective communication, negotiate compromise, strengthen connections and find and maintain balance.

With the support, guidance and insight of an experienced family therapist, you can foster a family environment in which everyone has a voice, shares responsibilities and feels comfortable expressing themselves. You can set age-appropriate expectations, ensure that everyone’s needs are being met and develop the skills needed to nurture a smooth, well functioning, balanced family.

You still may have questions or concerns about family counseling services…

I have no idea how we’ll get everyone into family counseling sessions at the same time.

The idea of family counseling might seem hard from a scheduling perspective, but it doesn’t have to be. While it is great to get everyone together occasionally, we can schedule meetings based on the specific issues that come up and who is available. And, the work of just one or a few members of the family can have a ripple effect on everyone else. I also offer family coaching sessions in which family members can call in or meet online from across the globe. Essentially, we can figure out a schedule and counseling/coaching structure that is dynamic, flexible and aligned with your family’s needs.

There’s only one person in our family that is struggling. Why would we all need to engage in family therapy?

When one family member is struggling or suffering, it’s common for all others to be impacted. Families—and its members—are dynamic and interconnected. To create real change, all parties need to be included in family therapy. If you want to see change in this individual and your family as a whole, it’s important that you’re all involved in the healing, growth and discovery process that family counseling provides.

I’m at my wit’s end with my family and about to give up. At this point I doubt that anything—even working with a family psychologist—can help.

If you’ve tried for years to bolster your family without success, it’s completely understandable that you feel like giving up. The problem, however, is that this is your family and your life and you can’t just walk away. What you can do, though, is engage in the family therapy process, which can help everyone in your family start a fresh dialogue, create new understandings based on past hurt, expectations and future hopes. You can create a new perspective and develop strategies and solutions so that problems become more manageable. With the right approach and the help of a skilled family therapist, it truly is possible to foster new ways of relating.

Foster A Family In Which Everyone Has A Voice

You can create and nurture a family system that feels good and functions well. I invite you to take the next step and call my office at 310-985-2491 to schedule an initial appointment. Your happiness and your family’s happiness are investments that matter.