Life Stage Transitions

“I can’t tell if we are doing great or falling apart?”
“Is this normal?”
“No one tells you how to get through this.”

Families, like any living organism, go through changes that affect every family member, regardless of how positive the change may. Positive achievements and changes, such as career promotions, births, marriages, etc., may affect individuals in the family positively and negatively. More often, changes such as illness, separations, and life stage changes create more extreme stress. Change, whether positive or negative, is stress.

Family therapists sometimes liken families to a canoe trip. Sometimes the ride is very calm, smooth, and beautiful. Everyone is enjoying themselves. The destination and purpose are clear. At other times, the ride is tippy and precarious, and a storm is either coming or has already arrived. No longer is the destination or purpose visible. Members in the canoe may be considering jumping out or throwing others overboard.

Working with a professional allows members of the family to express their experience of the canoe trip. Being able to discuss the experience provides the opportunity for other family members to provide support when needed, become more empathic to each other’s experiences, and overall work better together to keep the canoe stable and calm. The destination may need to be altered and the purpose of the trip clarified. Working with a therapist allows these conversations to occur in a manner that maintains safety and respect for each family member.

Families are broadly defined and may include any people who are sharing life together. This does not necessarily require living together or blood relations.