Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Family therapists who start fights on purpose

Last night I had this interesting interaction with my mom on the phone. I was telling her about my bible study group. It is rare I think. Most of us are all a little bit burned on some aspects of church. We typically drink beer or wine with dinner together, we intentionally are made up of people who think differently from each other, and we are not even all christians. There are no popcorn prayers, hour long prayer request sharing, or christian book studies. We name a topic or bible scripture, usually something we are struggling to integrate in life and faith. Then we just start discussing it. The focus of the group is provoking thought and dialog not christian warm fussies. It's pretty much always thought provoking.

I was explaining this to my mom and she said "I could never do that. I know what I think but I can't have those discussions. I couldn't be in that kind of group."

This is true. I've spent my entire life not talking about anything my parents thought differently about because I have been so aware of their fear of debate, discussion, and difference. (Which doesn't bode well for any upcoming conversations about my "coming out".) While reading for school I realized that if our family was in family therapy with an experiential therapist it would be likely that the therapist would push this edge just a bit.

In my Family Therapy course this week we are reading about experiential family therapies and Virginia Satir. She is one of the more famous female psycotherapists and I'm intrigued with her. [Virginia Satir - wikipedia]

I have been intrigued with her and experiential therapies because they use the force of their personality and emotion as a tool (which is different from psychodynamic therapies). And although Virginia Satir was very warm and empathetic typically these therapists interact in the family, as part of the family, to get family members to react and "flush out the problem." Or in other words my textbook "Family Therapy concepts and Methods" by Nichols says
"the therapist...increased the affective intensity in the session by confronting a member of the family. The anxiety generated as she did so was sufficient to expose a hidden problem. Once the problem was uncovered, it didn't take much cajoling to get the family members to fight it out."
This would totally freak my parents out and maybe even me for that matter, but I am interested in it anyway. I am curious about what type of fight a experiential family therapist would start in my family. All the Scandinavian and German cultural rules are in place in my family to keep this from happening. eg. Don't talk about it. Don't fight. Don't tell anyone. Don't discuss hard stuff. Which makes sense for the Scandinavians who had to spend a very long dark winter cooped up in the same house. They had this rule so they didn't kill each other spending that much time together. Hmmm. But now?

Alright I've got to end this there but..... so interesting.

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