Family relationships can become tricky at times. Recently, I had a conversation with a client who I have seen regularly over the years. She was reflecting on her experience on how her relationships with her family and herself had changed for the positive. I will call the client Sally and present this article as a case study to protect her identity and confidentiality.
Sally came wanting to address family and personal issues and looking to heal her “wounds from the past”. Sally also wanted to learn the best strategies and tools to address the negative behaviours being acted out within her family which were impacting on the whole family. Sally told me she was feeling bewildered and at a loss as to how to best address these behaviours.
An exploration of the family dynamics revealed that Sally had been a single parent for many years with little or no support from her ex-partner. The marriage was difficult and a subsequent breakdown and separation even more so. The impact of living in an emotionally and psychologically abusive and unstable environment took its toll on the whole family in different ways.
As her three children moved through adolescence to young adulthood, they each struggled in their own way on their journey to try and make sense of the past, to grieve and come to terms with events of the past and to create a path for themselves in order to live a full and satisfying life. She reported the children had experienced varying degrees of anger, anxiety and depression and had reacted to challenging situations in varying ways – violence, anger outbursts, abusive relationships, alcohol and/or marijuana dependency. The whole family struggled with the events and breakdown of the marriage and in dealing with life’s rocky road highlighted within the children’s journey into adulthood. This was mirrored by Sally’s own struggle with depression, anxiety and anger which played out through over-compensation issues relating to her parenting style, and in enabling the children in their negative choices.
We worked together to gain insight and awareness around her unique parenting style and how aspects of her style of parenting had not been helpful. Through the learning of relational awareness practices she gained insight into the relational dynamics that had driven the family’s way of interacting between themselves and others and how these dynamics were born out of different perspectives of the same shared hurts, traumas and abuse. By developing relational intelligence and increasing relational awareness Sally was able to be more mindful of her interactions with her children. This brought about positive change within the family dynamics, which has in turn flowed out in their interactions with the world around them. This has been highlighted by a positive change in negative behaviour that has included a marked improvement in emotional literacy and mental wellbeing with a decrease in negative behaviours such as substance misuse.
If you would like to make positive change and improve your emotional well-being or would like to out how relational counselling could help you or your family then please contact me now.