How Change Occurs
People will often choose the same familiar way of relating and avoid change. Any type of change is risky because the atmosphere and events are unknown. It is quite common for people to continue upholding an undesired lifestyle for a long period of time before they are motivated to make a change. Change usually occurs only when it becomes more painful to remain the same than to embrace the discomfort of the unknown and bring change.
In addition to this, when one member in the family (system) changes, all of the other members must make some adjustment to their responses in order to facilitate this change. For example, hypothesize that a man enters therapy because he feels very down and depressed. Through the course of therapy sessions the man begins to make changes to the way he responds to situations. He discovers that these changes help to elevate his moods and he feels lighter and less burdened. In the past, this man would normally not speak up and add his perspective or give input to how things were done at home. Through therapy he realizes that this lack of communication increased his depression. He begins to communicate with his wife (risking her rejection and disappointment) and he tells her that he is sad and lonely when she goes on holidays without him and asks if she would be willing that she join him at their cottage so they can have some needed time alone. The man’s wife is surprised to hear her husband’s perspective because she had always assumed that he enjoyed the time alone. She is now faced with change. Her awareness is now different and she now must make a decision, taking her husband’s perspective into account. In this way, the husband’s new ways of responding have affected his relationship with his wife. This change will then affect the children when their mother decides not to go away with the children on holidays but instead joins her husband at the cottage.