Family Communication, Therapy and Counselling

This video looks at family communication, therapy and counselling. Our use of language conjures up pictures in our mind. The words we use also create images in the minds of those who hear them. The first name to come to mind when we think of this profession is probably Freud.

Freud brought us psychoanalysis and introduced us to the concept of our ego, our life force and brought to term libido into popular use – although it refers to the “life force”, our energy if you like, not the more modern reference to our sex drive.

Freud suggests that issues we encounter in later life come through experiences in our early years. He introduced the idea that our conscious mind is like the tip of the iceberg, with the unconscious element far greater. Splitting into psychoanalysis and psychodynamic approaches these long term (analysis) taking several years or weeks to months for dynamic therapy.

Since then approaches and theories have developed to bring us a host of therapeutic schools of thought each with its own theory and practice. Names like Carl Jung, Abraham Maslow, Pavlov, Beck will be familiar to any secondary school student of psychology.

The commonality with all these is the process of speech, of talking. Many therapies are client-led with a counsellor being guided by the client with regards to what they want from therapy and the approach they want to take. Outcomes or goals are agreed and the process can be reviewed and approaches changed if needed.

So, a point here is when you talk to your family, particularly when discussing an issue what reaction do you and the others expect? How much does the reaction you expect change the way you make your point or tell your story?

The harder the subject, the bigger the perceived issue, the more difficult it can be for us to express it. as I said a moment ago, we expect certain reactions, and the same goes when people talk to us. Your children will assume you always react in a certain way to certain information, you and your partner have issue that you probably don’t talk about because you think you know the reaction you will get.

So, we end up addressing our concerns elsewhere, we moan about the kids to our spouse and siblings. We talk about our partners to best friends. We talk about the boss to our colleagues and so on. And we wonder why nothing changes. We can be left we sense of conflict, that someone, even a family member doesn’t see our perspective.

A way to help deal with the sense of conflict is a simple exercise called three chairs or the empty chair.

Set out three chairs “facing each other. Sit in the first chair and describe the issues, the feelings both physical and emotionally towards the other person.

Move to the second chair, put yourself “into” the other person, sit and talk like they would. You’ve heard your view, now get theirs.

Finally move to third chair, as an observer of this relationship, what advice would you give?

Back to chair 1, what have you learned, repeat these steps if you need to.

This is a great way to learn to really articulate your point and your feelings behind the issue BUT also creates a space for you to start to listen and consider the other persons point of view.

Ok so some more things to help.

1. Look for cue’s or clues that someone needs or wants to talk. My rule is that beneath every attitude is the want to be loved and beneath all our anger and frustration is a wound that needs to be healed.

2. Create time and space to talk. Many people love coming to therapy because it gives them both a space and time to talk, away from the everyday distractions.

3. Be patient, I have clients who can spend long periods of time in silence, looking for words they haven’t used for years or trying to articulate something that they have never had to give voice to before. The silence itself can sometimes be a place of healing.

4. Don’t try to be a mind reader, never assume what they are thinking, ask them.

5. Remember our thoughts drive our feelings, how does the issue they describe make them feel.

6. Bring these talks to a comfortable close by setting some time limit. You both need time to digest what has been shared. We need to process and not overload ourselves.

7. It’s not all about the bad stuff, so keep talking, talking and particularly listening, are real skills

Take Care



© Family Communication, Therapy and Counselling