Marriage and Family Therapy: Turning on the Light

Posted on January 7, 2012

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“We all struggle with forward motion.” Relient K

Inspiration sometimes comes from odd places.  I remember from my childhood an episode of “Rocky and Bullwinkle” in which our heroes were threatened by a villain that appeared as a large, overwhelming shadow cast on the wall of a darkened room.  It was later discovered that this large, overwhelming shadow was really just a very small fellow who stood close to a lamp to make the image of himself appear larger on the wall.  Several parallels can be drawn with how problems appear in one’s life.

First, problems can appear quite large and overwhelming.  They often cast a long shadow in one’s life.  When you are standing really close to something, it can be difficult to gain perspective.  The old cliché about not being able to see the forest for the trees may ring true.  I am reminded of Saxe’s poem of “The Blind Men and the Elephant” in which each blind man assessed the nature of the elephant based upon the part he could feel while never gaining an understanding of the whole beast.  There are times in life when we see clearly in part, but need help gaining perspective on the whole.

Second, problems are not indicative of a character flaw, mental illness, or fundamental flaw in relationships.  One encounters problems in the normal course of life.  Life stressors impact our relationships, and our relationships affect how we manage life stressors.  Partner relational problems, parent-child relational problems, and phase of life problems are common responses to stressors that come our way and are typical of moving through phases of our lives.  You are not the problem.  The people in your life are not the problem.  The problem is the problem.

Third, individuals, couples and families are resilient and have strengths and resources within and available to them.  Were this not true, no one could successfully navigate life.  Often these strengths and resources are outside of one’s awareness.  I have yet to meet anyone whose life did not contain shining moments when they overcame obstacles.  Fourth, therapy can be a collaborative process of turning on the light together such that the villain (the problem) is exposed and loses its’ power to dominate and overwhelm.  This process provides a new perspective in which solutions are developed that bring a person new hope.

References

Saxe, J. (1873), The blind men and the elephant.  http://www.noogenesis.com/pineapple/blind_men_elephant.html .

“I work with individuals, couples, and families to help develop secure connections
and craft manageable solutions.”

More information is available on my website www.scottwoodtherapy.com.  I am also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats http://scottwoodtherapy.com/Page5.html.

Scott Wood is a registered marriage and family therapist intern (IMF67385) and is supervised by Dr. Melinda Reinicke, Psychologist (Psy11011).

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