As a mental health professional and someone who has deep concern for Black people and our future, I cannot stress the importance of family. The family unit is the foundation for your future. Whenever an element of trauma and/or abuse is introduced into the family structure, the foundation become fragile.
When trauma and or abuse is introduced into the family structure, the family fabric begins to wear and ultimately will tear. If we are to be honest about the state of Black families, we can say that a significant number of our families are in despair. Our “community” is in horrific shape.
One solution to help aid in our healing process is family therapy. Family therapy is based on the idea that a family is a system of different parts. A change in any part of the system will trigger changes in all the other parts. This means that when one member of a family is affected by a behavioral health disorder such as PTSD, depression, schizophrenia, alcohol abuse, addiction, etc., everyone else in that family is affected.
A lot of times when these issues are introduced into the family, we do not discuss these issues. We find various different ways to cope with them. Often those methods of coping are used to deny and operate around the issue at hand. As a result, family dynamics can change in unhealthy ways.
Secrets, lies, and half-truths can build up in the family. Some family members may take on too much responsibility, other family members may act out, and some may just shut down. This in the long run causes more confusion, frustration, and stress in the family. Every family member holds this burden.
Family therapy can help the family as a whole recover and heal. It can help all members of the family make specific, constructive changes as the person in therapy changes. These changes can help all family members heal from the trauma.
There are two main goals in family therapy. One goal is to help everyone give the right kind of support to every family member involved, so that the treatment and skills gained stick. The other goal is to strengthen the whole family’s emotional health so that everyone can thrive.
Family therapy isn’t always easy. There will be struggles for everyone involved, but the outcome is worth it. Family therapy is an effective way to help every member of the family.
Now, family therapy is only a piece of the puzzle. We, as Black people, are going to need a lot of work on individual, couples, and communal levels. Our pain and trauma are spread very effectively across all these levels. However, focusing on the family unit is key. If there is not focus on the health and balance of the family unit, then there is no focus on the future!
As Black people, we have systematic issues. Therefore, we must take a systematic approach to our issues. Our problems come from oppression that is rooted in systematic racism. This has been researched, debated, lectured on, and presented for decades, and the results remain the same. The pain gets worse and our children’s futures grow dimmer and dimmer.
It has long been time to heal. It has long been time to deal with our pain. Our children cannot afford to have their legacies further damaged and fragmented. We must focus on having constructive relationships within our families.
Fragile families make fragile communities. Let’s build healthy and constructive families now! Our children are relying on us.
Brandon Jones M.A. is a mental health practitioner. He welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter@UniversalJones.