Undertake systemic family therapy

Alerted by the school that Jonathan, his 16 year old son, arrived alcoholic in class, Sabine meets the school social worker, who advises him to make a therapeutic approach. Sabine decides to undertake it as a family.

Erik Pigani

"The situation is typical: Henri, the father, is a sales representative, so he is often absent from the house, Sabine, the mother, is a part-time medical secretary, so more presents for their children, Jonathan, 16 years old, and Caroline, 13 years old ", puts psychotherapist Éric Trappeniers, founder and director of the Institute of the family, author of Psychotherapy of the bond couple, family, institution and It's my place! "The parents were summoned by the school because of Jonathan's behavior, but also because of the steady decline in his results - it was the mother who met the school social worker." Sabine, appalled, feels guilty, but does not want to carry the weight of the problem alone. Also, among the school's proposals, she chooses the family therapy. "Of course, Jonathan replied that he did not need to see anyone, Caroline, that she was not concerned with the problems of her brother, and their father, that he did not understand why he should be on therapy, but it was a request from the school and there was the issue of the baccalaureate, and they finally accepted it. "

The peculiarity of systemic family therapy is that it does not consider a symptom - in this case Jonathan's behavior problem - as an independent dysfunction but as a behavior of adaptation to a context. "To interpret this symptom, he You have to understand how the system works, says Éric Trappeniers For this first step of the work, I encourage each family member to describe the times when problems can occur: who does what to whom? Where? When? listen to what each of them says, observes How they say it and how others react. Thus, I can see if some of them manipulate or restrict the comments of other members of the small group. During our first interview, when I asked parents if they had noticed problems at home, they downplayed Jonathan's behavior as normal for a teenager. On the other hand, his sister described all the incidents that disturbed their daily life, for example that his brother was still hanging around to eat. "The psychotherapist asks him then:" Are there things that you would like to see change? "Caroline answers that she would like her mother to take care of her more and that her father be more often at home."These moments of expression are important because they make explicit what is implicit in the relational implications.To talk about what you never talk about puts the family system in crisis, but it is a big step in the therapeutic process."

During this first session, the psychotherapist brings each member of the family to feel concerned: "We move from a" linear "situation, a person has a problem, to a" circular "situation, the person wears the problem but the responsibility is extended to the whole family, so it's possible to interpret it in context, here I've wondered to what extent, subconsciously of course, Jonathan has put himself in danger and has focused the attention parents' consequences on him to protect the balance of the family The consequences of a successful baccalaureate may change the intrafamilial rules with, for example, the departure of a child to a more independent life. very present like Sabine, it means to mourn her son and to be more in demand with respect to a rather absent husband. Jonathan may therefore be considered to have focused his parents' attention to prevent significant changes. We had few sessions because this family had some kind of "therapeutic fiber" and they wanted to make changes in the family rules themselves. "


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