Karen's Blogs

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

[No unsolicited guest blogs accepted, thank you]

Is It Hard Being the Mentally Healthy Person in Your Family?

Is-It-Hard-Being-the-Mentally-Healthy-Person-in-Your-Family

Most clients get very excited when they start to get psychological insights into how dysfunctional their family is. They’re determined to recover from past trauma, heal their wounds, and become more emotionally healthy. What they may not realize is that this is not necessarily what other family members want to happen. Parents and siblings might view this new-found wisdom and altered behavior as rocking the boat and upsetting the homeostasis of the family. In fact, what clients often find when they attempt to do what’s best for them is not support but a circling of the wagons and a tsunami of resistance. 

So, instead of being cheered on, these clients are overtly and covertly pressured back into their old ways. Sometimes it comes as a surprise to them that they’re not getting pats on the back and other times they anticipate and are bracing themselves for such push-back. Either way, it’s far from the encouragement they crave and deserve. Here’s a typical example of what I’m talking about:

Greta’s family is very problem-oriented as some families of dysregulated eaters are, and when they get together, they vent and complain, getting sympathy from each other and minimizing problem-solving. When I called Greta’s attention to this dynamic, she was surprised, insisting that she’d never noticed this family reaction, while heartily agreeing that what I perceived was overwhelmingly true. She said she’d like to be less negative and more positive but couldn’t imagine how she’d fit in with her parents and siblings if she didn’t walk in the door with a million things to kvetch about.

Before she was to pay them a visit out of state, we talked about what she wanted to share with them and what she didn’t. She said her mother would immediately want to know how she’s doing with binge-eating and bulimia, and her father would start probing about difficulties she’d told him about at her job. She felt strongly that she didn’t want to discuss either issue because all they did was give her useless advice, although she knew they were only trying to be helpful because they loved her. We did some role-playing and she said she’d study her notes from therapy on the plane ride there.

Her post-visit session went as I expected. Her parents were annoyed that she refused to talk about her eating or work problems and instead wanted to tell them about an upcoming trip she and a friend were planning for a week in Rome. She held her ground and watched as her brother and sister picked up the slack, him with gripes about his roommate and her with a litany of complaints about her new boss. My client deemed the visit a success because she stayed mostly positive and avoided the woe-is-me trap.

 Best,

Karen

 

To Complain or Not to Complain
When A Safety Net Turns Deadly

By accepting you will be accessing a service provided by a third-party external to https://www.karenrkoenig.com/

This website is owned and operated by Karen R. Koenig, M.Ed., LCSW. It contains material intended for informational and educational purposes only, and reasonable effort is made to keep its contents updated. Any material contained herein is not to be construed as the practice of clinical social work or of psychotherapy, although adherence to applicable Florida States, Rules, and Code of Ethics is observed. Material on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment for mental health issues or eating disorder problems, which should be done only through individualized therapeutic consultation. Karen R. Koenig, LCSW disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained on this website. This website contains links to other sites. The inclusion of such links does not necessarily constitute endorsement by Karen R. Koenig, LCSW who disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the use of any information contained in this website. Further, Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or current usefulness of the material contained in the linked sites. Users of any website must be aware of the limitation to confidentiality and privacy, and website usage does not carry any guarantee or privacy of any information contained therein.