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Dec 2014 by PCI College

It's the Season to Be Jolly

It's the season to be jolly but the stresses on family at Christmas can be enormous. Brian O'Sullivan, PCI College lecturer talks about how family therapy can help to deal with stresses and issues in family relationships.

Christmas time is the season to be jolly, but sometimes Christmas can bring stress, heightened family expectations, financial difficulties and family conflict during or after the festive season.

Sometimes people experience lots of different emotions at this time of year, from happiness, contentment and love to sadness, feelings of despair, loneliness, worry or guilt. Good relationships might flourish, but sometimes Christmas might be the straw that “breaks the back” of some relationships.

At the moment it seems, there are more people with more problems who need more help than ever before. This is not surprising as the stresses on families are enormous. There may be loss, separations or bereavements. There may be challenging behaviours from adolescents. This is why PCI College has decided to reach out to families at this time of year, so people can get help early, before a crisis or before they have lost hope.

Life brings challenges and change. It brings a need to talk about what is important. It is helpful to facilitate that conversation in a way that brings people together so that they can understand each other better. Family therapists are especially skilled at this.

What Is Systemic Therapy?
Systemic therapy, also called family or couple therapy, is an approach that tries to understand and work with people’s pain and distress as it occurs in a family or couple relationship. It was developed in the 1950s as a result of dissatisfaction some therapists felt with the disappointing results from other approaches.

Family therapists work with biological, non-biological, foster, adoptive, heterosexual, gay and lesbian couples and families. They work with one person in the room or with more than one person in the room.

Clients are facilitated in a confidential and respectful way to make sense of their difficulties. The therapist aims to enhance communication between family members without apportioning blame. One focus might be on the present rather than the past, to promote action towards change. The therapist and clients work to understand the emotional, psychological and interpersonal problems that arise in the context of how people experience their lives.  We work in a collaborative way with clients to try and understand how these patterns arise and how they are maintained, through discussion, reflection and exploration in sessions.

Who Can Benefit From Family Therapy?
Family therapy is helpful whenever the aim is to enhance the ability of family members to support each other. This enables family members to use their resources more efficiently in a supportive way and can be vital in helping members manage transitional stages of family development or stressful life events.

Generally speaking, any situation that affects relationships and functioning can benefit from family therapy. Family therapy can be useful in times of crisis and in relation to longstanding problems. It may help to prevent problems such as behavioural difficulties or mental health breakdown. Some other issues or circumstances where a family could benefit from family therapy are as follows:

•    Health problems particularly chronic illness
•    Psychosomatic problems
•    Child & Adult mental health
•    Alcohol or other substance misuse
•    Marital problems such as separations or divorce
•    Foster care, adoption and related issues
•    Family life cycle and transitional stages of life issues
•    Promoting parenting skills and family functioning
•    School related problems
•    Work related problems
•    Traumatic experiences, loss and bereavement

From PCI college, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a peaceful christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Brian O'Sullivan, BACP (December 2014)
PCI College Faculty Lecturer

Brian is available for a limited number of reduced cost family therapy sessions in the PCI Counselling Service, Clondalkin D22. Please contact Louise or Avril, Monday - Friday 11am to 6pm on 0818 555 450 for more information and an appointment.

About Brian O'Sullivan:
Brian is a member of the faculty at PCI College. He has been working with young people, families and couples. He is currently completing a four year programme of post graduate study at the Family Therapy Unit in the Mater Hospital, Dublin.

Further information:



*Image: Eastenders Christmas 2013, www.Radiotimes.co.uk

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