Family relationships can provide us with the most joy, fulfilment, and love. Families are the origin of self-understanding as well as the development of our self-esteem. Families can be the haven and refuge after a challenging day at school or at work where one can let their guard down and breathe, re-group, rejuvenate and feel loved. While this may be true for some, given the high percentage of absent fathers and single mothers who have the responsibility of providing for the family it is not for most families in South Africa. Children go home to an empty house and even if they have food and clothing, they are lacking the hands-on love and guidance that children and teenagers require to become well-adjusted adults. It seems that the happier homes are the right of the privileged, but privilege does not necessarily equate to a healthy functioning, supportive and loving environment either.
Family Counselling is an extension of relationship counselling yet with added complexity as the family forms a system/structure and sometimes the structure, roles and privileges that exist within the family system need to be assessed to determine where the most effective changes can be brought about.
Family therapy assesses and works with the interplay of relationships between all members and to help the family work out any structural/role changes that may need to take place as well as provide effective tools to bring about change in the nature of the relationships, communication and to re-illuminate the respect and love for each member.
It is my belief that all family have a level of dysfunction as all members are uniquely human, have their own ticks, personalities, and nuances. It is when the level of dysfunction causes hurt, resentment and disconnection that help should be sought.
Family therapy does not always have to be about resolving the great war either. Development through childhood right through to late adulthood may bring about adjustments that can be difficult to navigate for all concerned and may require a re-calibration.