Essay Example on The movie chosen was On Golden Pond

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The movie chosen was On Golden Pond The life transition and developmental issue present in the couple are the father's cognitive decline and age related memory loss familial conflict and divergence between father and daughter Norman and Ethel appear hunched and infirm which is a sign of osteoporosis or general bone density decline and their hair is gray and thinning Ethel seems to be in better shape than Norman The movie is filled with conflict and resolution When daughter Chelsea arrives the family is forced to revisit and renew the ties that bind them and overcome the generational conflict that has occurred for years The father Norman is turning 80 years old and frequently talks about dying and aging He appears disconnected from his environs and is quite absentminded and off putting There is some definite unresolved discord in the relationship between father and daughter They seem to be unfavorably stuck in the past Chelsea calls her father by his first name which is a sign of disrespect and also an indication that she feels that he has been negligent in his duties as a father Chelsea admits that she still feels as if she is a child in his presence 



The father belittles and patronizes her at every opportunity Through the lens of the family systems theoretical orientation the focus is on patterns that develop in families to defuse the tension and anxiety According to Brown 1999 a key generator of stress in families is the perception of either too much closeness or too much distance in a relationship The degree of anxiety in this family can be determined by the current levels of external stress and the sensitivities to particular themes that are transmitted through the generations If the family members cannot think through their responses to relationship dilemmas a state of chronic anxiety may be set in place According to Brown 1999 the primary goal of family systems therapy is to reduce constant tension by enabling knowledge and awareness of how the emotional system functions and by improving levels of differentiation where the aim is to make changes for the self rather than on trying to change others As per Richardson Gilleard Lieberman and Peeler 1994 The short term goal is to foster better relationships between family members of the different generations by understanding the family system with its rules and balances of power and to mobilize the system by reconstruing these rules and having the family observe its own functioning The beginning sessions focus on information gathering in order to form ideas about the family's emotional processes which at the same time provides information to family members about the presenting problem in its systemic context

A multigenerational genogram is used to track the history of the nuclear family into the extended family system Brown 1999 The differentiation of self scale would be used to estimate the level of differentiation compounded by factors such as stress levels individual differences in reactivity to different stressors and the degree of contact individuals have with their extended family At one end of the scale complete differentiation is said to occur in a person who has resolved their emotional attachment to their family and can therefore function as an individual within the family group Brown 1999 The aim according to Brown 1999 is to identify clues about the emotional process of the family including patterns of regulating closeness and distance how anxiety is dealt with in the system what triangles get activated the degree of adaptivity to changes and stressful events and any signs of emotional cutoff Information and stories about past generations are viewed as useful clues to the roles people occupy in triangles and the tensions that remain unresolved from their families of origin The goal in the long term is to teach the family about systems concepts as they operate in their own family as a way to inspire members to look beyond their own biases to make it possible for them to consider each person s part in the family patterns Another characteristic of the family systems orientation is its strength in working with a single adult Coaching is the term used to describe the process of giving input and support for an individual client attempting to develop greater differentiation in their families of origin In this instance the goal is to empower Chelsea to take control of her own change efforts As per Brown 1999 it was thought that a person's efforts to be more differentiated would be more productive when the focus is shifted away from the nuclear family

The emphasis is on self directed efforts to detriangle from family of origin patterns An individual s efforts can modify a triangle which in turn ripples through to change in the whole extended family This individual therapy method supports the individual s efforts n returning to their families to observe and learn about divisive patterns while they practice controlling their emotional reactivity in their family and report their struggles and progress in following sessions 

Additional individual interventions use letters telephone calls visits and research about previous generations to gain a systemic perspective on their family's emotional processes and a sense of their own inheritance of these patterns In an effort to pre empt the anxiety and resistance that may occur as a result of this disturbance to the balance of family patterns steps must be taken to prepare clients for the shift in their customary roles References Brown J 1999 Bowen Family Systems Theory and Practice Illustration and Critique Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy 20 2 94 103 doi 10 1002 j 1467 8438 1999 tb00363 x Richardson C A Gilleard C J Lieberman S Peeler R 1994 Working with older adults and their families a review The Association for Family Therapy 16 225 240


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