Curiosity is about gaining knowledge about the different views of different members of the family. That is why therapist do a lot of questions and at times, end up going through very attentively difficult situations families have experienced. It is not a morbid curiosity to see the family fight again. Through these recounts the therapist will learn about how discussions evolve and how they escalate into disagreements that end up weakening the relationship. In going through these recollections the therapist makes space for each member to explain him/herself and to see what others understood. So one starts getting questions like “and why did you do that?”, “do you always act that way or is this different?”, “do you think your partner understood that?”, and the other people in the room get questions like “did you know he was feeling that way?” or “did you ever notice that happening to her?” In this way the therapist tries to help the family members come up with beefed up explanation to their behaviours. It is so nice to experience people learning about each other. The curious therapist will always discover that even after a family has been together for years, there might still be things people do not know about each other. These are all important elements to start gaining insight into disagreements. Moreover, the actual listening to other family members explain the way they live the different situations that occur in family life, gives each and every member of the family an insight into the diversity of effects familial relationships have on each member of the family. This hopefully creates a reciprocal interest, an interest in knowing how the other people in the family are affected by what each and every one does. And what is more hearth warming in a family, than to be seen and your actions acknowledged and more than that understood. Only at that point can anyone be in a position to change.
– 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.