Family therapy. Another way to give therapy

Family therapy. Another way to give therapy

When we think of psychological therapy, the image of a person doing an individual session with their psychologist comes to mind. We may also think of group therapies, such as those of alcoholism that frequently appear in movies. We may even imagine a couple with many conflicts which go to a consultation together. However, these are not the only ways to give therapy. There is a therapeutic modality that brings to the consultation not only the person with their difficulties but also the family members. This is known as family therapy, and here we will explain aspects of this therapy and how it could help you.

What is family therapy?

Family therapy is a psychotherapeutic approach different from that commonly used in individual therapy. This therapy focuses on interactions between the family members and not on the problems or difficulties of a single person. In family therapy, the family is understood as a system in which the members are not isolated but continuously influencing each other. That way, when conflicts in their dynamics, vital or family crises, or even when a difficulty of one member appears, all components of this family system will be affected. In turn, they could help and contribute to solving these difficulties.

The reality is that all people come from a family, many will have already formed their own family, and many others will do so in the future. Families are our first place of growth and socialization. It is in the family where we learn to take our first steps in personal self-knowledge: Who are we?, what do we like? what do we want? etc. These and thousands of other questions, sometimes so difficult to answer, are beginning to be answered in this first social area that constitutes the family. Additionally, families, including our own, are influenced by endless circumstances, from the past and present, culture, society, and many other aspects. Without a doubt, each family is unique. And therefore, the relationships that are established between its members are also unique.

For this reason, it becomes clear that treating a person without taking into account their family environment can be fruitless. And this is where family therapy makes sense since we cannot lose sight of the fact that the family is considered in most societies as the most important pillar on which the individual growth and development of a person are based, as well as their roles, duties, values, beliefs, and principles. This approach not only takes into account social and family factors that surround the person. It also allows the therapist to intervene directly with this context and with the dynamics and relationships immersed on it.

What are the goals of family therapy?

The goal of the family therapist is to help restore the balance of the family when tensions, communication problems, or when one of its members has any problem that could affect coexistence at home. In a family therapy, the therapist will attend to the family as a whole. The therapist will study its dynamics, its dysfunctional communication, and its behavior patterns, having as the ultimate goal the transformation of a family that does not function into a functional family, where all members can grow and develop healthily.

In short, the goals of the family therapist would be the following:

  1. Promote the transformation of the family, fostering equitable relationships, mutual support, collaboration, and stimulating growth and a sense of collective responsibility.
  2. Help the family to change the perception of the problem, building a new narrative of the problem and understanding that the way of relating in the family may be related to the appearance of symptoms or difficulties.
  3. Helping to modify dysfunctional repetitive behaviors that could harm relationships.
  4. Promote the development of new healthy ways of communicating, encouraging healthy emotional expression.

How it could help you?

Surely more than once, you have been able to observe, in your environment, families with great difficulties. Even your own family, at some point in its life cycle, would have had to face its own obstacles. It is in these situations where family therapy can be beneficial.

Here we are going explain in what situations family therapy will help:

  • To help children and adolescents in different situations: fears, eating disorders, difficulties in school performance, drug use, addictions, etc.
  • To help after parents’ separation or divorce in the adjustment to the new family structure and composition.
  • To face the challenges of multiculturalism in the family.
  • To resolve communication conflicts and adaptation in family relationships.
  • To face and overcome mental and emotional dysfunctions and disorders as a family.
  • To assist in educational concerns between parents.
  • To help to face difficulties when it comes to implementing boundaries, rules, and reaching agreements in the family.
  • To face stressful life events, such as family grief or illnesses of one of the members.

Does my family need family therapy?

You do not need to wait for a severe problem in the family or for conflicts or difficulties to escalate unnecessarily. There are many reasons why you can attend family therapy since it is a psychotherapeutic approach in which both, family problems and individual conflicts, can be addressed. If you believe that you or a member of your family has any problems that has a negative impact on the family system, or you think that your family is going through difficulties that may need psychological help, it may the perfect time to consider going to an accredited family therapist who can guide all family members to understand what is happening and what can be done.

Victoria Ramos Kurland
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Victoria Ramos Kurland
Adults, families and couples
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé

Pandemic Fatigue: 8 Keys to Overcome It

Pandemic Fatigue: 8 Keys to Overcome It

It has already been a year since the beginning of the health crisis caused by COVID 19. What was originally going to be just two weeks of confinement gradually became an almost endless situation. Months of confinement, locked up at home, with fear and uncertainty. And we still didn’t know what we were facing. Is there an actual risk? Is this just mass hysteria? Meanwhile, the news bombarded us with overwhelming information about risks, safety measures, social distancing, numbers and more numbers about the pandemic evolution, the “new normality” and its phases, and a long etcetera that we were listening to and trying to integrate into our everyday life.

And when it was over, what did we found? Restrictions, fears, social distancing, curfew and more uncertainty. A contradictory socio-political environment that we couldn’t understand and a return to life very far from normality. Who would have guessed that more than a year later, the word “PANDEMIC” would still have such strength, and that we would have dealt with not one or two, but three waves, and thinking about a fourth?

No doubt that this situation prolonged in time, and so unpredictable has an impact on us. The first days we were hesitant with the new safety measures. However, little by little we started to understand the importance of following all the protocols. Thanks to this, we felt some sort of control regarding our own protection and more responsibility towards others. However, a year after, the pandemic is still here and the safety protocols that we easily integrated (mask, hydroalcoholic solution, distances, quarantines, etc.) are more difficult to maintain. Without even noticing, they are fading away. The feeling of control and responsibility decreases, while our demotivation and tiredness arise.

This is what is called Pandemic Fatigue.The WHO defines this as “demotivation to follow recommended protective behaviours, emerging gradually over time and affected by a number of emotions, experiences and perceptions, as well as the cultural, social, structural and legislative environment.”According to Carlos III Health institute (ISCIII), data shows that while this situation continues, we are being more careless when following the safety protocols.

Today we are exhausted, and the strength and adaptability that we showed at first, is being lessened. Our coping mechanisms that were useful in those first months of the pandemic are diminishing, and now that we understand that there is no established end, our motivations decrease, leaving the door open to the Pandemic Fatigue.

You feel identified? If so, this is what you can do.

These suggestions won’t make COVID 19 go away, but they can help you to deal with it, making this path a bit easier for your emotional health.

  • Normalize how you feel
    It’s already been a year with this situation. Exhaustion, sadness and stress are a natural outcome of the pandemic. We are experiencing a complete new and unexpected situation for everyone. Analise if you are been too hard on yourself for feeling this way and try to accept and allow these unpleasant emotions. That is the key to start to minimize them.
  • Adjust your expectations
    The pandemic it’s not a temporary break in our lives. For that reason, it’s important to adjust our expectations so as to be able to get involved in plans and projects adapted to the real possibilities of the situation we are living. Stop postponing plans to “when the pandemic finishes” and star planning what you can do today. This will help you to connect with your interests, desires and to find motivation in your day to day.
  • Prioritize your selfcare
    A lot has been spoken about doing exercise and eating healthy. And of course, this can help, but taking care of yourself is way beyond this. Apart from healthy habits, there are other types of selfcare: emotional (selfgratitude, managing stress, selfcompasion and positive search), social (be listened to, seek help, healthy relationships and affection) and cognitive (read, meditate, connect with nature, have time for yourself, etc.). Prioritize taking care of yourself, because with everything that is happening around us it’s very easy to forget about our selfcare.
  • Have a break and allow yourself unproductive time
    We need a psychological break. We need to allow ourselves to disconnect. Not only during holidays. Every day after work or assignments, try to disconnect and rest. You can either watch a comedy or just breathe deeply while you listen to the radio. It’s not unproductive time, resting is necessary to keep on going every day. The same way athletes understand that resting is part of their training, remember that, resting can be part of productivity for you too.
  • Leave time for rewarding activities
    Enough of just working and studying. Life is much more than that and the pandemic hasn’t arrived to snatch that from us. Of course, it changed our way of living and our way to find enjoyment, but this is not an excuse. Surely there is something you can introduce in your schedule that can make you feel better. You are the greatest expert on yourself, so as an expert you know what rewarding activities could work for you. Go for a walk, read, boardgames with cohabitants, play an instrument, handicrafts… Is there a personal project that you could start? Can you boost your creativity? Is there a forgotten hobbie that you can pick up with? And above all, don’t forget that is never too late to learn something new.
  • Limit the “infoxication” and avoid the same old story
    COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID, COVID and COVID. You know what I’m talking about? Surely, you’ve heard something. If we aren’t careful, it is almost the only thing we talk about, and t the news that we are most interested in. No doubt that this is the main pandemic fatigue ingredient. Being informed is necessary, but an information overload can be very damaging to us producing more and more anxiety and fear. Try to limit the time exposed to COVID news and, when spending time with others, talk about other topics and not the same old boring story that incites the pandemic to be the centre of our lives. What did we talk about before all this?
  • Connect with other people
    As humans we are social creatures. Being alone and isolated goes against our nature and can have many damaging consequences to our mental health. For that reason, look for a way to be in contact with other people, following all safety measures. Safe distance does not mean social distance. What could you do? Maybe it is a good time to teach you grandmother how to make a videocall. You can also meetup with people outdoors, look for outdoors activities such as hiking with friends or just go for a walk with someone. Of course, don’t forget that, if you are in quarantine, your mobile still exists. Call you friends or family and enjoy some time with them as if it were in person.
  • Create new traditions
    If the pandemic has arrived to stay (for now), we will have to create new rituals and new traditions or activities that go well with it. During the first confinement, we created the 8p.m. applause “tradition”. Some created the “family videocall on Friday nights”, and others knew that Saturday morning was banana bread baking day. Fortunately, we are no longer locked up at home. But we can still keep on creating traditions that add to our lives some colour. For example, what about if the first Saturday of every month you try a new recipe? It can also be a good idea to save Wednesdays to watch a film with your cohabitants, and Thursdays to play boardgames. Be creative and think of what new tradition or activity you would like to include into your new lifestyle.

Overall, pandemic fatigue is real, and it affects us all. If you find yourself in a situation where demotivation, fear and/or sadness seems to be far from your control, do not hesitate to ask for help. The professional health carers will be here to accompany you through this process. Feeling and showing vulnerability is also part of your strength.

Victoria Ramos Kurland
Division of Psychology, Psychotherapy and Coaching
Victoria Ramos Kurland
Adults, families and couples
Languages: English and Spanish
See Resumé