Going through a rough patch in life at some point is a rite of passage that nobody can escape, no matter how much they wish to do so. Suffering from emotional distress or mental anguish is just part of being sentient, so there is nothing really anyone can do to prevent this inevitable reality of life. However, when the cloud of despair takes over one’s life, they can seek emotional support, professional or familial, to get through the gloomy spell.
Since mental healthcare carries a stigma, many people turn to their families in times of emotional or mental suffering. But what happens when the entire family is distressed, and nobody can help one another? As unlikely as it may sound, whole families can enter a rough patch, and end up becoming distant. The members may not see the lack of communication and the general air of uneasiness within the family as a reflection of their personal struggles. And doing so eventually leads to more problems, widening the rift between the family. Therefore, it is crucial that you pick up on the signs of familial suffering early on so that you can seek help before things get direr.
If you are not sure the ever-present unrest you sense within your family is an indication of a collective cry for help, here are all the top signs that you need family counselling.
A Lack or Absence of Communication
If there is a lack of communication within the family, let’s say everyone stays quiet at dinner or breakfast or seems to be distant and keeping to themselves, then chances are you need family counselling.
Family therapy or counselling is pretty much like individual therapy, as each member of the family is asked to share their concerns in confidentiality, and then the expert discusses all the personal issues with all members to come to a solution. This way, everyone gets to put out their feelings, which is essential for catharsis.
Enmeshment is the term given to describe relationships where personal boundaries aren’t well-defined. Generally, in families where parents are overbearing, children can begin to feel suffocated as their guardian is unhealthily involved in their life.
To better understand how enmeshment plays out in a family, let’s consider a hypothetical scenario.
Let’s say your parents control every aspect of your life. They decide what you wear, what you eat, where you go, what subjects you choose, who stays your friend, etc. As a kid, this overly involved parenting style didn’t bother you much, but as you grow old, you are starting to feel smothered, which has forced you to distance yourself from your parents.
If the picture painted above rings a bell, you should consider seeking professional help to break the pattern of being told what to do.
Trauma/ A Life-Altering Incident
One of the most overlooked signs of a family needing counselling is going through trauma. When a family experiences trauma, perhaps losing a member, it needs to get through the pain as a unit. But more often than not, family members seek solace individually, trying to stay strong in front of each other to keep the spirits in the house high, which only adds to the misery.
If your family is in mourning, or a member is diagnosed with a terminal illness, or you have a differently-abled child, you should get family counseling to process the pain together.
Aside from the mentioned signs, if you notice a difference in the overall behaviour of your family, let’s say you all used to go for long walks at the beach every week but haven’t done that in a while, then you should reach out to a professional counsellor to bring everyone back together.