Navigating Family during the Holiday Season with Counselling in Kitchener

While the end of year typically brings with it plenty of opportunity for fun social occasions and celebration, it also comes with the potential for family conflict and relational pressure. 

One also cannot deny the impact that COVID adds to the equation – especially as we all make highly personal choices about managing our COVID risk.

The pandemic has certainly affected all of us differently, and we are all moving forward at different paces, and that’s okay. These differences are a normal part of the process of change – but it just makes for a more challenging journey.

Over the past two years, our Kitchener Therapists have helped a number of families manage the struggles that arise when it comes to members of the family sharing different views on how to manage COVID safety. Christmas and New Year is often spent amongst family and friends, sharing in food and drink with very little social distancing. And while some family members may feel comfortable to resume normal pre-pandemic activities, others in the family may not. It is hard for those who are trying to resume a “normal” life not to take offence when someone in their family refuses to hug them or to attend the occasion altogether. However, it is equally challenging for the family member on the other end to have their fears and safety concerns misunderstood.

These are certainly strange times. 

So how do you navigate this space when family members are not on the same page? It’s all about being open and honest, and how you communicate with one another.

  • Remember that decisions regarding one’s safety are very personal. We should not impose our own views onto others. 
  • Make a concerted effort to gently explain the values you used to make your decision.
  • Identify the information that informs your choice, and share it with your loved ones in a  loving way.
  • Once you have made your decision, make the best of the choice you’ve made.
  • Everyone is feeling what they are feeling in their own way, and they are making their own choices. Accepting this fact is an important cornerstone of good mental health.

The family environment is often where we feel most comfortable to be ourselves, but ironically, it can also be the space that we find the most challenging when it comes to communicating our needs. It can be extremely helpful to find the language to communicate with one another in a more healthy way when there is an unbiased professional present. It may sound intimidating, and almost give off the false impression of a failed family unit – but that is not the case.

Family Systems Therapy

Coca Psychotherapy therapists in Kitchener Waterloo often make use of the Family Systems Therapy approach to help clients to better understand and more positively navigate the interactions between members of their family.

The Therapy is based on Murray Bowen’s family systems theory, which holds that individuals are inseparable from their network of relationships. Family systems approaches generally fall under the categories of structural, strategic, or intergenerational.

3 Common Approaches to Family Systems Therapy

  • Structural family therapy

This approach looks at family relationships, behaviors, and patterns as they emerge within the session in order to evaluate the structure of the family. Therapists also examine subsystems within the family structure, such as parental or sibling subsystems.

  • Strategic family therapy

The second approach examines family processes and functions, such as communication or problem-solving patterns, by evaluating family behavior outside the therapy session. 

  • Intergenerational family therapy

The third approach acknowledges generational influences on family and individual behavior. Identifying multigenerational behavioral patterns, such as management of anxiety, can help people see how their current problems may be rooted in previous generations. 

Family systems therapy has shown to be effective with families, couples, and individuals, and has been used to treat many mental and behavioral health concerns. 

When our Kitchener therapists utilize this approach, they evaluate the individuals within the family unit in relation to the family as a whole – and it has proven highly effective with our clients!

If you are looking for some support from therapists in Kitchener, Waterloo to help manage all that the holiday season brings, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! Contact COCA Psychotherapy family counselling in Kitchener, Waterloo here to book an appointment or give us a call at 226-336-5787 for a free consultation over the phone.

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