Estrangement and Reconciliation: Do you belong in each others life?

The decision to reconcile is often an ongoing and tortuous process. This is true at any point of the estrangement but particularly after a great deal of time has passed and all parties are off living their own lives. And yet we yearn for a healthy connection, driven by the human desire to create/recreate happier times.

With my clients, they have to make their own decision on whether to reconcile but we often explore different ways of working through the decision making process. 

This might include doing a pros and cons list to highlight the good aspects of the relationship with the bad. 

But another exercise we do is to paint a very detailed picture of their life and it’s many facets, including work, home, hobbies, goals, friends, etc. I also ask them to integrate important past events, such as weddings, birthdays, child birth, successes, etc as well as future events. 

And in this place, I’ll ask them if there is room for estranged family members in this life, do they belong there and most importantly, do they want to be part of it (in whatever capacity)? If they were there, would they be happy for you, would they be there with no agenda…or will there be a tension which upsets the stability? This also emphasizes their contribution to your life, which could be very little…And if you really need them at all. 

But this works both ways in that estranged family members might not necessarily want you back in their lives either. So we also visualise if they are glad to have you there.

Being honest, these strategies don’t always work but they might break any analysis paralysis and move the decision making process forward a small bit.

Take care


2 thoughts on “Estrangement and Reconciliation: Do you belong in each others life?

  • Orna Doran
    Orna Doran Reply
    January 7, 2024 at 1:34 am

    Hi Karl.
    As a therapist I have come across clients who are finding things difficult in their primary family situation. Do you cover in your webinar or articles the questioning of people as to whether they should walk away from family members whether primary or their own children.
    I am coming across more family situations as time goes on with clients
    I would appreciate your thoughts.
    Kind regards

    • Karl Melvin
      Karl Melvin Reply
      January 15, 2024 at 11:44 am

      Hi Orna, thanks for reaching out and yes helping clients find their own answers and make the right decision for both themselves and the immediate/extended family is big part of the therapeutic process.

      Much time will be spent reflecting on the family history and effectively ‘make sense’ of it all. As well as discussion, other tools are useful to offer different perspectives and insight.

      These can in include drawing out family tree’s but my own approach (The Estrangement Inquiry Model) was my own addition to the this process.

      I have one course for therapists (2 CPD hours) which acts as an intro to the model and how it might help clients:

      Feel free to email me directly if you have any questions:

      Take care

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