The Family System
The family can be considered as a complex system of interlocking and interacting personalities where the desires and hopes of the individuals adjoin and conflict with the interests of the family as group.
There is a family group unconscious, just as there are the unconscious aspects of each of the individuals. There is also a natural hierarchy, where the parents are the natural leaders and the children fall into line with the parents’ authority. Or so it is in an ideal situation.
The Bowen Approach
The Bowen approach provides powerful tools to help understand what is happening in a family system. Here are the eight Bowen concepts (with links to the Bowen Center for more information).
- Triangles. Triangles are three-person systems. Someone is always uncomfortable in a triangle and pushing for change.
- Differentiation of Self. People with a poorly differentiated “self” depend so heavily on the acceptance and approval of others that either they quickly adjust what they think, say, and do to please others or they dogmatically proclaim what others should be like and pressure them to conform.
- Nuclear family emotional process.The four basic relationship patterns that govern where problems develop in a family.
- Family projection process. How parents transmit their emotional problems to a child.
- Multigenerational transmission process. How small differences in the levels of differentiation between parents and their offspring lead over many generations to marked differences in differentiation among the members of a multigenerational family.
- Emotional cutoff. How people manage their unresolved emotional issues with parents, siblings, and other family members by reducing or totally cutting off emotional contact with them.
- Sibling Position. How people who grow up in the same sibling position predictably have important common characteristics.
- Societal Emotional Process. How the emotional system governs behavior on the level of society, promoting both progressive and regressive periods in that society.
The King and Queen
We see couples and sometimes family members where the natural order has been subverted. Why and how this has happened can be complex to sort out. But it’s worth the work to sort it out – to help restore the natural order and return the parents to their natural position as King and Queen of the household. Everyone is relieved (because it works best this way)!
The simple understanding that it is within the power of the parents to restore the kingdom can have powerful positive effects on the behaviours of the children.
- See also: An Adult Attachment Primer
Here are some of the issues we deal with in Family Counselling. In some cases we see the parents together; in other cases we see other family members as well.
- Management of Autism and ADHD
- Behavioural issues
- Parenting Concerns
- School Performance
- Children’s Health
- Sibling Rivalry.
Adult Family Resolutions
We work with adult siblings who want to clear up unresolved issues from their childhoods together.
We also work with adult child-parent pairs, to resolve what are sometimes long unresolved issues.