Family of Origin Therapy
Carl Jung wrote, “The more intensively the family has stamped its character upon the child, the more [the child] will tend to feel and see its earlier miniature world again in the bigger world of adult life.” The impact of growing up in your family is tremendously powerful for everyone. There are an infinite variety of things you learned and experienced that shaped your perceptions of yourself, others, and the world around you. It is in our family of origin that we learned how to interact and communicate, how to manage our emotions and meet our needs. Most of our values and beliefs come from our parents. Our sense of self originates chiefly from our relationship with our parents and other family members. If we felt safe and were loved a majority of the time, we develop a stable and healthy sense of self. If on the other hand, love and safety were usually not present, our sense of who we are can become unstable, unhealthy and fractured.
Family of Origin therapy is about an exploration of these familial factors and involves the process of tracing back “reverse engineering” to the origins of certain present-day manifestations. As a very general example, if your parents were busy all the time and emotionally unavailable, they were not present to give you the love and attention you needed. If this persisted throughout your childhood you may have concluded such things as “I’m not important” or “I don’t matter”. Another example is when no matter how hard a child tries, the parents give the message (either expressly or implied) “It’s not good enough, try harder next time”. The child may conclude (consciously and/or subconsciously) “Nothing I ever do is good enough,” or worse, “I’m not good enough,” or simply, “I’m not enough.”
These “conclusions” or beliefs will generally carry forward into adulthood, and will manifest most prevalently in present day relationships. In the second example, a person growing up believing they are not good enough may unconsciously seek out and be attracted to people within whom they perceive the promise or hope of somehow one day being enough. And so this person has difficulty maintaining healthy relationships where others treat them well (as if they are enough) because it is incongruent (doesn’t fit) with what they believe about themselves. What usually happens is the person will seek out relationships that remind him/her of the familiarity of the “not good enough” scenario they learned in their family of origin–they will seek out others who treat them as not enough and go about the frustrating business of trying to “be enough” to that person. It’s as if within the present-day “not enough” dynamic lies the hope of resolving the very old and familiar dynamic of childhood.
Family of origin therapy uncovers these hidden beliefs and messages and works to understand, resolve, and finish the business of the past so that you don’t have to keep re-creating present-day scenarios in futile vicarious attempts to resolve past wounds and hurts. Facing family of origin issues in therapy helps unravel and reveal the mechanism of how these processes occur in present-day life in relationships and traces where they came from. The therapy process generally involves unlearning and relearning, discussion and analysis of significant events, messages, parental relationships, styles of communication, family values and traditions, and ways of managing and expressing feelings. Through taking a careful look at the past you are better able to see and understand why you do what you do, why you have particular beliefs, why you make certain choices, and why you tend to experience particular emotions. You are then able to sort through the old messages, beliefs and perspectives that may be causing you difficulty and make a decision to change your thinking and incorporate new perspectives of yourself, others, and of life itself. Working through family of origin issues is a process that takes time however it is indispensable in facing and overcoming fears and unhealthy relationship patterns, and it helps people achieve deeper clarity and peace and move forward with their lives.
If this type of therapy sounds appealing to you, call (225) 293-2913 to schedule an appointment with a Baton Rouge Therapist.