When Carl asked the Brices to bring their whole family to therapy, everyone in the family knew intuitively what that meant. Their whole world would be exposed: all its caring, its history, its anger, its anxiety. All in one place at once time, subject to the scrutiny and invasion of a stranger. And that was too much vulnerability. With its own unconscious wisdom, the family elected Don to stay home and test the therapists. Did we really mean everybody? Would we weaken and capitulate if they didn't bring Don?They had something to gain by the strategy. If we were hesitant and unconfident in our approach to their defiance, they would know that they could not trust us with the boiling cauldron of feeling which their family contained. If we were decisive and firm, they would guess that maybe we could handle the stresses which they intuitively knew had to be brought out into the open. One way or another, they had to find out how much power we had. In the meantime, they postponed facing that mysterious electricity, that critical mass, the whole family. Perhaps they thought they could be spared what Zorba called the full catastrophe.
The individual psychotherapy patient comes to the therapist with an almost automatic deference, a sense of dependence and compliance. The role pattern is old and established: the dependent child seeking guidance from a parent figure. There is no such traditional image for the family, no established pattern in which an entire family submits to the guidance of an individual. And the family structure is simply too powerful and too crucial for the members to go trustingly into an experience that threatens to change the entire matrix of their relationships. If the family therapist is to acquire that initial "authority figure" or "parent" role that is so necessary if therapy is to be more powerful than an ordinary social experience, he has to earn it.
Only the family, society's smallest unit, can change and yet maintain enough continuity to rear children who will not be "strangers in a strange land," who will be rooted firmly enough to grow and adapt.
A Christian will find it most beneficial to practice secret worship, corporate worship, and family worship. They are all important for our life in Christ. They each bear a necessary weight, and they all inform one another. When my secret worship is lacking or even non-existent, then my worship in the corporate community and family will be affected. When my attendance at corporate worship is sparse, then my secret worship and family worship will suffer as well. These three spheres of worship are related, informed, and encouraged by one another, because in each I am meeting with the Lord and benefiting from His grace. As I grow in my enjoyment of the Lord in my closet, so my enjoyment of Him in corporate worship will increase. As I hear the preached Word of God in corporate worship, this informs and stimulates my heart and mind in leading my own family in worship. As I worship God with my family, my affection and love for the Lord increases, which encourages my secret and corporate worship. They all inform one another. If I am starving in one area, then as I function in the other spheres I will find that I am malnourished there as well. p. 27
Families come into therapy with their own structure, and tone, and rules. Their organization, their pattern, has been established over years of living, and it is extremely meaningful and very painful for them. They would not be in therapy if they were happy with it. But however faulty, the family counts on the familiarity and predictability of their world. If they are going to turn loose this painful predictability and attempt to reorganize themselves, they need firm external support. The family crucible must has a shape, a form, a discipline of sorts, and the therapist has to provide it. The family has to know whether we can provide it, and so they test us.
By marrying to soon, many individuals sacrifice their chance to struggle through this purgatory of solitude and search toward a greater sense of self-confidence. They glance at the world outside the family and with hardly a second thought grasp anxiously for a partner. In marriage they seek a substitute for the security of the family of origin and an escape from aloneness. What they do not realize is that moving so quickly from one family to another, they make it easy to transfer to the new marriage all their difficult experiences in the family of origin.
All families are psychotic. Everybody has basically the same family - it's just reconfigured slightly different from one to the next.
It has been a long road for us as family therapists to reach an understanding of just this phenomenon-the sense of the whole, the family system. While we could have explained the theory of meeting with the whole family to the Brices, at that anxious moment it would not have touched them. There are situations where, in the words of Franz Alexander, the woice of the intellent is too soft. The family needed to test us. They needed the experience of our being firm. As unpleasant as it was, our response must have reassured them. They knew, and we sensed, how difficult their situation was and how tumultuous it could become. They simply has to know that we could withstand the stress if they dared open it up.
Family therapists view the therapeutic relationship as a means to an end rather than as an end in itself. Family therapists see beyond the problematic patterns in the family to the potential healing power of family relationships.
Family is a choice...Parents and siblings are your relations. Family takes care of one another and helps each other.