Changing to…?

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Group Therapy, Relationships | 0 comments

When asked what they hope for in seeking psychotherapy, many people answer that they want some part of their lives to change:

  • change in their levels of anxiety and/or depression
  • change in their relationships:  romantic, family of origin, work, friends
  • change in their sense of themselves, e.g. self-esteem

Usually, the implication is that the change should be for the better and not fully understood.

And yet, what does it mean to change?

And what are the effects in our lives when or if we do?



This is the first of a series of posts concerned with the topic of change and the sometimes thorny path it takes.

In his research and writing, Murray Bowen posited that a whole system could be changed if one aspect of it were altered.  If that system is a computer program, it may be relatively painless (although I’ve never changed anything on my computer that’s been anything other than a pain).  When we’re talking about people–in particular, families with long-standing patterns of interaction–that change probably won’t be integrated without great difficulty and even greater patience.  Indeed, that system may not want to change at all and will work hard to get you to change back.

For instance, in families where people convey information indirectly, e.g. a parent communicates with his or her son through the daughter, and that daughter no longer carries her parent’s messages, will the parent then speak directly to his or her son?  Or will that parent increase his or her efforts to re-engage the daughter’s earlier role?  More often than not, the latter is the norm.

It requires support, energy, and determination not to allow yourself to be pulled back into a well-worn role and/or to experience the complaints of those who relied on you to play that role.  Having a group who encourages you to continue on your new path, helps you develop new ways of interacting, will bear with you the growing pains, and celebrate the growing gains with you, can make a huge impact on your ability to navigate the effects of changing.


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