As humans have complicated social dynamics, naturally many of the issues that arise within a household are also layered. To manage these relationships better, individuals should embrace the concept of family counseling. From serious breakdowns to seemingly non-serious situations, counseling is an excellent resource for families looking to develop a better understanding of one another.
Though varied, there is deep psychology and commonality behind it, better seen from an outside perspective. Many times we are not cognizant of our habits, especially around those with whom you spend your life. Licensed professionals train for years in the field of psychology, learning common human behaviors that can be underlying factors in individual cases. Verbal tone, body positioning, passive voices, eye contact and triggers are more apparent to a trained eye.
I have been receiving therapy through Texas A&M’s Counseling and Psychological Services for the past few years, and the help has been tremendous. My counselor and I discuss a variety of topics, including the issue of family. In our sessions, I can relay my thoughts on topics I find hard to talk about with anyone else. Though I am lucky to have a strong support network, I prefer to get an objective view from my counselor. In a judgement-free setting, therapy can be mentally freeing and bring a lot of constructive thoughts into the fold.
In my sessions, I have learned so much about myself and the reasons behind my actions. Discovering my habits, thought processes and biases have changed the way I interact with my family, especially in times of distress. I am an argumentative person and would often find myself either being easily offended or subconsciously being the antagonizing force. This kind of behavior would frequently lead me to altercations which I could have handled differently. Becoming aware of those traits has allowed me to manage my actions better, and the amount of control I have gained over them is liberating.
Though my time in these sessions has been paramount, they only give voice to one side of the story. Not only would I like to understand myself, but also the rationale of my family members. I want to be able to truly appreciate their fears, goals, doubts and beliefs, as I wish them to learn mine. If the goal is to foster a sustainable relationship that can withstand the rigors of a continually changing life, then communication and consideration for others are vital. When there is a lack of understanding, conversations between two parties can be akin to shouting into an abyss. Being in a controlled setting with an agendaless therapist can help bridge the gap in these situations.
Early childhood trauma, regardless of the severity, creates a lasting influence on our behaviors today, especially in this transitional period of college life. We are moving toward independence and developing our own rational thoughts. However, we are still profoundly dependent, either physically or emotionally, on our families. This is a time many students are at a heightened risk for developing mental illnesses and volatile behaviors. Just imagine how many of our problems stem from our childhood and home life.
Families work best when they are a cohesive unit. Naturally, we want the best for our loved ones, as it is advantageous for all parties. It is a societal expectation for us to foster healthy relationships with our family members. Yet, we often still have problems expressing ourselves. Honest, open communication promotes genuine understanding which can lead to a fairer middle ground. Living as a family is a compromise, and sometimes therapy can be a helpful negotiator.
Finding healthy boundaries and acceptance of actions, and how to appropriately voice displeasure are things that everyone does differently. Wanting help does not show that you are giving up or are inadequate to your family. On the contrary, striving to understand others and working to continuously improve are signs that you care.