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Category: relationships

What is Structural Family Therapy?

What is Structural Family Therapy?

I’m grateful to Sal Minuchin for helping us as family therapists understand, conceptualize and maneuver within the dynamic structures of families: the way that the emotional and legal connections of parents to their children over generations create fluid as well as fixed patterns of hierarchies, loyalties, rules, subsystems, coalitions and boundaries. While we may know these experiences instinctively, his theory gives us a vocabulary, structure and system of talking and thinking about these automatic family features. I’m particularly glad for…

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When Severe Mental Illness Strikes a Loved One

When Severe Mental Illness Strikes a Loved One

Book Review: “I Am Not Sick, I Don’t Need Help” by Xavier Amador, PhD.  (Vida Press, 2012) For the last 20 or so years, brain research has helped doctors and therapists understand that the serious mental illnesses of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are diseases of brain function. During the century before the “Decade of the Brain (the 1990’s)”, these rare and frightening mental diseases were blamed on bad or inadequate mothering (the “schizophrenogenic mother”), thanks to the early theories of…

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Long Term Marriages are Different

Long Term Marriages are Different

From Madeleine L’Engle’s Two-Part Invention: The Story of a Marriage:  Speaking of her 40 year marriage to her husband Hugh Franklin: “We were not a latter-day Heloise and Abelard, Pelleas and Melisande when we married. For one thing, the Heloises and Abelards, the Pelleases and Melisandes, do not get married and stay married for forty years. A love which depends solely on romance, on the combustion of two attracting chemistries, tends to fizzle out. The famous lovers usually end up…

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Touching Home Base

Touching Home Base

Over ten years ago, during the most difficult part of my career as a parish pastor, I took a quick summer trip back East with my two young children to visit my family. We flew in, and my parents picked us up from the airport. Toward the end of that visit, I coerced my parents into taking the 100 mile trip from their home to the town of my childhood. Though we had talked about it weeks before on the…

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I Need Help NOW

I Need Help NOW

Several of my clients are suffering with destructive moods, relationships, jobs or unemployment at the moment.I understand what that vortex feels like: overwhelming physical tension, unclear thinking, rushed or confused decision making, hair-trigger temper, uneasy sleep. During times like this in life, it’s very hard to trust that you can find a way to hang on. The present is so unpleasant it seems endless. When times like this come to us (and believe me, they will come to us all,…

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Monogamy: It’s Not for Everybody

Monogamy: It’s Not for Everybody

Back in the day when I performed weddings, starry-eyed couples would come to my church office to do premarital counseling and plan their (elaborate) wedding ceremony. I guess I never stopped to consider it much, but I assumed, as did they, that the promise to be “faithful until death parts us” was seriously considered and solemnly promised before and during the wedding service. They only had eyes for one another. Yet, I knew that about half of all the weddings…

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Personality: Does Birth Order Matter?

Personality: Does Birth Order Matter?

For generations, family members have noted the differences that naturally arise in children raised in the same family. How is it that John, the first born and only boy, seems to have such different personality characteristics than his younger brother, raised in the same house by the same parents just two years apart?  Good question! Theories of personality abound. You may be familiar with some of the more popular models, often used in work or educational settings. The Myers-Briggs Type…

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Losing the Boundaries

Losing the Boundaries

I’ve been reading about blogging, and it seems that I’m not doing it right. Those in the know about such things tell us writers, mostly in their blogs, that to blog is to create a personal online community, one which is thirsty for the writer’s words and self revelations; writing that steps toward the daily Diary or Journal, and away from more sedate Opinion or Editorial. The most successful of blogs these days – and it seems to change every…

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Helplessness & Haiti

Helplessness & Haiti

It’s been over two weeks since the earthquake devastated the people of Haiti. Tens of thousands have died, including people you may know. And along with a desire to help, and a deepening sense of helplessness as we watch that impoverish nation respond, I am struck by a familiar conflict, or perhaps it is an observation about human life. I continue to wonder how my life can go on in its normal way while massive, untold despair, suffering and death…

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How To Marry Well

How To Marry Well

The best marriages are made by people who begin their relationship as friends and use friendship as their marriage model. Do you know how to make and keep a friendship? Listen and talk, share work and pleasure, respond to a friend’s bids for attention, and get some attention back? Laugh and enjoy each other, be flexible when things don’t work out, fix your disagreements, stay loyal but open to other people in your friend’s life?  If you do, and can…

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