Do you remember how shocking and funny The Simpsons or Married. . .with Children were when they first aired on TV? And how clichéd that dysfunctional-family format has become? That’s because reality ceases to be clever when we recognize just how real the tragedy is.
So much of marriage and family life is no longer the idealized black and white lives of the Cleavers, but a series of dramas that play out, not on the TV, but in our homes. We love our families, yet conflict can become wearing. Is there hope for resolution? Ask a family therapist.
Gone are the days when undergoing therapy involved lying on a couch before a goateed fellow whose vocabulary included “Hmmm,” “MmmHmm,” and “What do you think?” Nor is therapy reduced to a blame game of “Identify the Culprit.” Therapy today is a viable option for constructing real solutions to real problems.
Unlike other approaches to mental health, family therapy focuses on the interpersonal relationships of the members of the system of interaction known as the family. In simple English, family therapy looks at how the parts work together to make the machine work like it should.
While traditional approaches to mental health dwell on the internal process (“What’s wrong with one person?”), family therapy brings everybody together in an attempt to eliminate the stressor and to understand why it throws everybody else out of whack. “Out of whack” is a professional therapeutic term, of course.
Participation in therapy does not suggest that something is wrong with you or your family. The family therapist serves as an agent for you to reduce the tension and understand what it is that has created the razor’s edge you are all walking, teaching you to chart a new path a little further back from the abyss.