July 15, 2010 02:35 by Rob
What is the value of experiencing intimacy and growth with a family... INVALUABLE. What is the measure of meaningful relationship gained through the joining of parents/guardians in authentic vulnerability… IMMEASUREABLE. How much is it worth to experience joy through laughter, tears, and relational repair… PRICELESS. Given this belief, the relationship of the parent/guardian and the therapist is one of the most essential elements in the process of treatment.
It is said that the entire family is in treatment when a student is enrolled, but does this really mean that parents/guardians experience the same impact of growth as the student. The answer needs to be yes. They need to experience the relational intimacy which generates emotional healing and authentic connection. So often, parents are expected to “hit the ground running” and don’t receive the empathy and understanding which they truly need. How can someone be expected give and give when they have not replenished what has already been given, even to the degree of complete depletion? One can only imagine the hardship and difficulties they have gone through to emotionally and physically be at this point (being separated from their child).
It is evident that parents/guardians are longing for emotional and physical connection. This very connection is what allows them to grieve what they have gone through and feel safe enough to begin to sort out the abundance of intense emotions stirring inside. The relationship between the parents/guardians and the therapist needs to become one of those interactions which is safe, reliable, predictable, and dependable enough to experience this connection of intimacy and trust. The therapist is to be empathetic and able to accurately hear the pains which the parents have gone through and experiencing (exhaustion, fear, work demands, other obligations, loss, guilt, burn out, sadness, anger, lack of support, etc.). The therapist needs to go beyond the hearing and experience true acceptance through genuine sharing and vulnerability. Coincidentally, this is the very same process which the student experiences in the program and with parents/guardians.
The relationship between parents/guardians and the therapist is critical and serves to model healthy relationship (boundaries, limits, attunement, acceptance, etc.) and provide consistency and safety for the student. To take part in such an intimate and meaningful process is an incredible opportunity. Therapists at CALO know what a privilege it is to step into the lives of families and take the wonderful and often difficult journey toward connection.