Healing from Family Dysfunction

Families have their unique quirks and possess qualities passed down from one generation to the next. Some traits we embrace and others we try hard to replace, avoid, or ignore. In some cases, the negative experiences outweigh the positive and that becomes problematic.

Some of those unhealthy interactions we experienced with family members we carry into our adult relationships.  Maybe you recognize these responses in yourself today:  criticism, blaming, judgment, trust issues, lack of accountability, etc. 

Do you have problems keeping friendships?  Are you staying in intimate relationships that are harmful to you?  Do you find it hard to trust others?  Or are you expressing anger in ways that get you in trouble? 

While we want to move away from a hurtful past, we may inadvertently be playing out the same unhelpful roles or behaviors in the present.  Negative childhood experiences can have a lasting impact that affects how you perceive yourself and how you interpret your meaningful relationships. 

In counseling, you can sort through the mess and decide what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of. As a kid you had little choice in the kind of life you wanted to lead, but as an adult you have the opportunity to empower yourself!


Common Characteristics of Dysfunctional Families:

  • Alcoholism or Drug Use: addiction is central in defining specific negative roles to family members such as the scapegoat, the enabler, and the hero in order to preserve the family member’s problem with drugs or alcohol.

  • Codependency: remaining in unhealthy or harmful relationships; relying on others to determine your self-worth; difficulty making decisions independently.

  • Boundary Problems: a lack of autonomy and privacy or controlling behaviors are evident.

  • Neglect or Abuse: may include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

  • Communication Issues : passive-aggressive communication; inability to speak directly with the necessary party.

  • Perfectionism: having high or unrealistic expectations of oneself or others; not allowing room for setbacks or errors.


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