As explained in the earlier blog of this series, people usually interpret happenings in their family depending on what happened in the past. Sometimes through past intimate relationships they had or even through what they observed in their own families of origin. People build internal thought processes that shape thoughts, feelings, actions and behaviour in present and future relationships. These internal thoughts such as “I am not worth being loved”, “I can’t satisfy my partner” and “I will always end up loosing my partner” tend to remain imprinted and carried from one relationship to the next. Other types of internal thoughts could be “she cries to get to my weaker side”; “I cannot give up my side of the argument otherwise I will have to do it forever”. It is for this reason that the therapist has to remain curious on discovering what the underlying thoughts each and every member of the family has. With the help of the curious stance, the therapist explores patterns of interactions that are leading to the emergence of that thought or thoughts, and how these impact negatively the relationship. It is very important to remember that the idea is not to understand who’s fault is! The therapist is more interested in how he acted, she reacted, and what he did because she reacted that way and then what she did because she thought he would react that way. Complicated? Yes it is, and when you are in it, it is harder to understand what is going on. That is why couples or families sometimes need an external person that could help look into this chain of actions and reactions; with the help of the family members reach an explanation and help find ways how to act differently next time around.
– Mike Orland is a family therapist practicing the systemic approach. He offers therapy to individuals, families and couples, and runs the family therapy services within Willingness. He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.