Rifts & Reconnection

Rifts & Reconnection

Helping Adult Children Heal

By Psychotherapy Networker

January/February 2022

All of us have a biological imperative for connection and attachment, and psychoeducation to normalize the desire for reconnection after a family rift allows clients to explore the issue with self-compassion rather than guilt, confusion, judgment, or shame. In the case of estrangement, we should invite clients to be curious about the part of them that wants to reconnect and to gain clarity about what that part is hoping to achieve by reaching out. 

For the client who’s ambivalent about reconnecting or doesn’t fully understand what motivated the desire to reconnect, I’d encourage an exploration through two-handed writing. Dividing a large piece of unlined paper in half, the client could engage in a dialogue between the part that wants to connect by writing on one side of the page with either her dominant or nondominant hand. On the other side of the page, using her other hand to write, the part that’s reluctant or unsure about reconnecting could respond with questions and comments. This reduces inner conflict by honoring both perspectives and giving each part a voice, while allowing the client to gain greater insight. 

Other creative ways to unpack and explore the issues that might arise if a client reaches out to an estranged family member is a guided visualization of the encounter, or role playing in session, using an empty chair to represent the family member. Another strategy would involve using a sand tray and choosing a figure or object to represent the…

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