Our family-of-origin ties exert a profound influence on us, even if we are sometimes unaware of the impact. Every relationship has its ups and downs, but when we go through sustained difficulties that we are unable to effectively address, it may be time to reach out for help. Dealing with family ruptures or chronic misunderstandings over time can be extremely painful, leading us to feel hopeless of ever being understood or having a meaningful relationship with our family member. Reverberations from negative interactions with people whom we care about deeply, or depend on, not only affect our connection to that person, but can sometimes impact our self efficacy, creativity and self-esteem.
If these negative interactions continue over time they can become solidified into patterns. Unfortunately, many people wait too long to get help. The earlier these difficulties can be effectively addressed, the more favorable the outcome. Hurt feelings and distress that build up over time can lead to explosive accusations that are then met with equally explosive reactions. This can inflame the situation leading to more hurt feelings and misunderstanding. Or, you might not want to address the difficulties because one, or perhaps both of you, are afraid of making things worse. If the issues are not addressed in a productive way, you are susceptible to growing apart. Hurt, anger, resentment and emotional distance can ensue.
We are living longer and have increasing demands on our time and attention. This can leave us with less energy to devote to our primary relationships. Yet, it’s clear from the research that our health and well-being is directly impacted by the quality of our relationships. As the Co-director of the Family Program at Psychological Care & Healing (PCH) Treatment Center, I have had the privilege of working closely with couples and families; witnessing the benefit derived from healing family relationships. PCH provides psychiatric treatment in a residential and out-patient setting in Santa Monica, California. Running a monthly family intensive program and coordinating treatment with a dedicated staff of over 50 skilled, licensed professionals provides a unique opportunity to make a difference in families’ lives. We help families repair and strengthen their respective relationships amidst trauma, recovery from addiction, mental illness and adversity. These relationships can benefit from support, no matter how late in life. I specialize in working with adult children (18 and above) and their family members. In addition to running the family program at PCH Treatment Center, I have flexible hours to accommodate families in both my private practice offices in Los Angeles and in Orange County.