Family issues

The family is a group of people who care about each other or depend on each other and consider themselves as such. It may be a nuclear family of parents, step-parents and children but may also include grandparents, step-children and half-siblings.

Family life can be a place of refuge and security but for some it is a source of pain and disappointment. Our families absorb many of the stresses and strains from the outside world – and the pressures can boil over. Sometimes a personal problem, particularly in an adolescent, can overwhelm a family and there seems to be no clear way forward. At other times changes within the family leave other members confused and angry or hurt. When a crisis or disappointment happens for one member the family group absorbs the impact, sometimes helping and sometimes hindering. Sometimes the help comes at a high price to one or more members.

A family is a ‘system’ or an organisation, such as a social club or a workplace, but the rules and expectations of each one are unique and complex and often seen differently by each member. It is through examining what the explicit and hidden ‘rules’ might be in each family and how they are seen and interpreted by each member that the work might begin. One of the dilemmas of modern family life is the conflict of being an individual and remaining within the group, too.

For many people family therapy conjures up interventions by government agencies when a family group has become dysfunctional. But increasingly help is now sought to help with the extreme behaviour of one member or to adapt to a shift or change.

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