Why I became a Family Therapist
By Kathryn Klock-Powell, PhD, LMFT, RPT-S, DCC
I think a lot of people initially get involved in the therapy field because of their own wounds and hurts. I was very interested in learning about why people do hurtful things, and why do people stay in relationships that are hurtful. When I took my first graduate course named “Divorce” in my Marriage and Family Therapy program and the professor wrote a brief genogram on the board to present a clinical case – I was hooked! After doing a lot of my own personal work to heal from being a child of an abusive alcoholic, I wanted to learn how to help others with similar family dynamics. I learned that family issues are not just linear – there are no “villains” and “victims” in families. Instead, there are negative patterns of interaction that are often repeated and reinforced by all the members of a family. The beauty of systems theory is that intervention can occur at any part of the system and change the dynamics of that system. We don’t have to wait for someone else to change or someone else to get better. We can change how we relate to each other and choose how we want to be in relationship with others. How empowering!
Rules for Fair Fighting
Have your family arguments gotten out of hand? Are conflicts beginning to feel like battles where no one ever wins and everyone loses? I really like the following, “Rules for Fair Fighting” .
Read the following list and notice which rules resonate with you – is there someone in your life who breaks this rule regularly? What about your own behavior? Is there one of these rules that you frequently violate?
1. No name calling.
2. No interrupting.
3. No blaming or accusations.
4. No cussing.
5. No yelling.
6. No sarcasm.
7. No defensiveness.
8. No generalizations (you always, you never).
9. No physical/emotional intimidating gestures/violence/threats.
10. No walking out without naming a follow up time.
The first time I read this list I realized there were a lot of these rules that I often broke in arguments. I can’t change what others do; I can only change my own behavior. I picked two things I really wanted to work on (name calling and cussing) and I believe that led to some major changes in how I communicate in my family.
Make a Change
I want to encourage you to try it, to pick one or two rules that you violate in arguments. If you think that you don’t violate any of these rules, I suggest you ask your family members for feedback. I bet they could help you recognize something you could work on! Make an effort to change the way you fight, this can have a tremendous impact on your life and on the people that you love.
I’ve always wanted to work I do to make a difference in the world. When I can help a family recognize the patterns of interaction that are preventing them from living the lives they want; to improve the way they talk to each other; to emotionally heal from old hurts – I feel like I am making a difference.
Kathryn Klock-Powell, PhD, LMFT, RPT-S, DCC is currently accepting new clients on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Contact her today to schedule your first appointment!
[email protected], 912-349-8043 ext. 703
For more information on Kathryn and the other therapists at Building Blocks Family Counseling click here!