Family history in family therapy and beyond
Through my work as a psychotherapist and family therapist, I’ve learned that understanding family histories and identifying family patterns can help us understand why we find ourselves in repeated situations. This is vital in both family therapy–where a family unit is in the therapy office, as well as in individual therapy. Ever wonder why you seem to be in the same situation over and over again? Are you in an emotionally reactive place? Curious about why you have strained relationships? Our family histories can provide essential context to our experiences, relationships and overall health.
Delving into family history is not always easy
We are a part of something larger than we can sometimes see, including those who came before us and those who will come after us. Of course, it’s not easy. Looking closely at our family histories can be scary business! Sometimes it’s just more comfortable to keep things buried. Not thinking about our family dynamics, especially if they were painful, may feel easier on our hearts.
But the benefits of looking intently at your family can be astonishing. On one hand, our current problems can be understood more deeply in the context of our families. However, we can also understand our areas of strengths and how we survived and continue to resist obstacles.
Our families are a type of culture
Though we may not often recognize it, our families are our very own cultural systems. This familial culture comes with its own set of beliefs, values and attitudes that we pick up in our development. Our families taught us how to parent, cope through losses, solve issues, love, and how to be in relationship with one another.
Spending some time to look at your own family’s culture in detail can give you a lot of information on your own life. This can include how you choose a partner, your physical and mental health, your job satisfaction, and the overall quality of your life and relationships. Understanding family relationships–and maybe even making some amends or coming to peace with some issues–is an important factor in our psychological health.
Taking time for your past in therapy can help guide your future
It should be said, however, that while we learn much from our families, we do have the ability to create change if something we picked up along the way isn’t working. While your family’s history can provide insight into your present, it can also give you tools to define your future.
Therapy is a great place to look at you, where you came from, and what you want to do now. Spending some time looking at your past can help you position yourself to create changes for the future. So how about it? Explore your tribe…