Here is the list of all of the Ten Reasons You Should Attend Family Counseling:
- To forgive yourself
- To forgive others
- To learn the heart of your siblings
- To get questions answered
- To become comfortable sharing who you really are
- To create a family vision
- To break generational curses
- To change roles
- To win souls
- To re-engage in family traditions
Each numbered reason above represent why you should or would consider family counseling, even if you feel that your family is functional and intact. There is a tremendous amount of healing and liberty that happen when you choose to have a courageous conversation with family.
To Change Roles
Perhaps you have been in an intact functional family but you want to switch roles. The eldest sister who had to take care of all of her siblings who had to forsake your own romantic or career life in order to put the children through school. Now you are all adults, but they still see you as a parent and not a sibling. This can sometimes be a difficult transition.
In the movie, “Deliver Us From Eva” this was exactly the case when three sisters leaned on an elder sister to become the parent after their parents died in a car crash. She made sure that the women started their businesses and attended college. She was there for one of them to get married, and she even forfeited the love of her life when he asked her to choose between her responsibilities for her sisters or her him.
When you attend family counseling sessions, you can help to clarify what your personal needs are, and to challenge others to accept that you have moved on from your past role, and desire to have a different role and responsibility within your family.
If you were sexually abused as a child and reacted with anger like me, no one ever really tried to find out what motivated your anger. They may have written you off as bad. I had siblings who would talk about me to extended family members, and now cousins and other extended family do not have a relationship with me despite my stability and personal growth. All of their opinions of me were always hearsay and it is unfortunate but their poor expectations have lead to very distant connections between me and my family.
When I attended family counseling recently, I was able to bring this up to a few of my siblings. Even my mother has said to me on several occasions that my siblings do not know me. So, I made it clear that some of their issues with me were not issues at all. They expressed being upset with me for how I treated my mother when I was eight, or how bad I was. To put this into perspective, I have a child who is about to graduate high school in two years.
Sometimes you have to tell people that how they treat you bothers you.
Allow me to offer two more examples. My husband is a really nice guy. He is extremely respectful and humble. He comes from a really good family who adore him but, they don’t really know him as they think they do besides the fact that he is a good person. In other words, they know is heart but they don’t know much else.
When I attended a family function, I was completely taken back at how they treated him, and then me! I still think that he comes from a great family but I also realize that all families could use some therapy even if the family just needs a mediator so that everyone can feel comfortable expressing themselves.
There was an aunt in particular who was out of control. She wasn’t the only one but I am going to single her out for this example. She spoke to him in a way that made me question whether she realized that he was a grown MARRIED man!
In short, there will come a day when he will have to have a courageous conversation with them but I understand that it will be on there on time. In the meantime, they are missing out on so much with him. Sometimes families have a certain view of you, and it is false. A relationship takes two people to commit to growing together and communication. This means that two people have to make phone calls, emails etc.
One of the benefits of family counseling is being able to say how you would like to be treated, and identifying the role that you currently play whether it is “black sheep”, “bum”, “delinquent”, “bad” or some other negative word that your family actually calls you.
I brought up my husband because I realize that some people will let you talk yourself into the ground. It doesn’t mean that he believes what you say about him, but he’s not the kind of person to change your mind either.
I don’t think I have met anyone more comfortable in their skin. He knows just how beautiful he is as a person, and he’d rather not try to convert someone who has convinced them self of details about his life, how he lives or how he maintains.
He is not unlike many people especially men who would rather just come around on holidays or as necessary. It doesn’t mean that the family member doesn’t love you, but if you are the one who always has something to say, chances are you are judging your family member and who wants to be around that?
A final example to changing roles is when there are multiple siblings, often living within the same city who have to care for their aging parents and one sibling in particular seems to be taking the majority of the burden.
I have a friend whose mother suffers from Dementia or Alzheimer’s. She lives in Baltimore and her mother in a town closer to Washington, DC. A brother lives on the same street as the mother’s house. There are five siblings, and without a doubt everyone should be able to contribute equally to supporting their mother in her chronic health.
If you are in a situation where your siblings are not helping you at all, you may want to switch roles. You may not want to be the responsible one who honors their parents anymore. You want, you need help! Well, people are used to you being responsible so how do you require it?
My sister plays the victim. Everything that happens is a result of something that someone else has done. She has always worked (this is a lie), she has always carried her own weight (this is a lie), she is not neglectful to her children (this is a lie), and in counseling she was appalled to find out that I was not the only one who had a problem with her parental choices.
I won’t get too deep into this scenario but the point is that there is a reason why she always plays the victim. At some point in her life, she was a victim and she switched roles. If one day she has an awakening, and decides to take responsibility for herself and her life, we are going to have to adjust to the new Tamara. We are not going to be able to keep her in her victim role. We will have to embrace her process to victory.
In family counseling you will have an opportunity to set boundaries around your new role. Change is something that is uncomfortable for everyone because it takes faith that some people quite frankly do not have.
What all of the above scenarios have in common is that you may be tired of being put under a microscope, living inside of a box. It almost feels like you live two separate lives. The one during holiday dinner this keeps you in the third grade, as an addict, as the responsible one, as the peaceful one, and the one that you are at home.
It is time to reconcile your authentic self into one comfortable, ever evolving being. And, if you are non-confrontational, or have some discomfort with approaching your family with idea or changing their perception of your role in the family, counseling can be an asset to you achieving your relationship goals.