NYC Psychotherapist Blog

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Dynamics of Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families

The Adult Children of Alcoholics World Service Organization outlines a laundry list of 14 traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOAs).  These traits often apply to adult children of dysfunctional families.

Dynamics of Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families

As a psychotherapist who specializes in working with trauma, I work with individuals and couples who are challenged by these characteristics and who often don't come to therapy until they have been significantly impacted in their adults lives.

Dynamics of Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families

These traits, which are usually deeply ingrained, are often perpetuated from one generation to the next, and difficult to overcome on your own.

Adult Children of Alcoholics and people from dysfunctional families are often surprised when they read the laundry list to discover that they identify with many of these traits.  They're also usually relieved to discover that these problems are not unique to them and that there is an identifiable cause that is known.

Some of the traits include:
  • Approval seeking and loss of identity
  • Confusing love and pity
  • Confusing compassion and responsibility
  • Fear of angry people and personal criticism
  • Fear of authority figures
  • Difficulty completing things
Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families and Fear

I've discussed other traits that are often identified as characteristics of adults from alcoholic and/or dysfunctional families in prior articles, including:

Mind-Body Connection: Responding Instead of Reacting to Stress
Overcoming Fear of Abandonment
Overcoming Fear of Anger
Relationships: Overcoming Codependency
Avoiding Codependency With Your Children
Learning to Feel Comfortable With Yourself
Exploring Secondary Gains of Codependency in Therapy
Addicted to Stress
Al-Anon: Beyond Reciting Slogans
Overcoming Childhood Trauma That Affects You as an Adult
How to Stop Pretending That You're Happy When You're Not
Early Recovery: You've Stopped Drinking. Now What?
Overcoming the Temptation to Use "Liquid Courage" to Feel Comfortable in Social Situations
Toxic Family Secrets
Overcoming Dysfunctional Ways of Relating in Your Family
Overcoming Shame: Is Shame Keeping You From Starting Therapy?
Why Is It That It's Usually the Healthiest Person in a Dysfunctional Family Who Goes to Therapy?
Getting to Know the Only Person You Can Change: Yourself

See my other articles about dynamics of adult children of dysfunctional families:
Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families: Confusing Love and Pity
Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families: Having Difficulty Completing Things
Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families and People Pleasing

I look forward to hearing your comments.

Getting Help in Therapy
Many people who come from dysfunctional families, whether there was alcoholism or not, feel that they were the only ones who experienced childhood trauma in this way in their families.

As a result, they tend to isolate or to pretend that they're doing well when they're not.

Free Yourself From the Psychological Effects of Trauma By Getting Help in Therapy

Rather than isolating and suffering with the psychological effects of trauma by yourself, you could get help from a licensed mental health professional who has experience working with psychological trauma so you can free yourself from the negative impact of your family history and live a fulfilling life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

One of my specialties is helping clients to overcome emotional trauma.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (917) 742-2624 during business hours or email me.