Therapy for Family Estrangement in Seattle
Family estrangement has a significant impact on mental health and wellbeing. There are often layers of grief, loss, and traumatic experiences woven into the experience of becoming cut off from a family member. People experiencing estrangement often feel uncertain about whether or not their experiences will be understood by others.
Here at Anchor Light Therapy Collective, we have therapists who specialize in treating estrangement-related issues. We understand the layers of complexities involved in these situations, and aim to help you feel heard and understood. Schedule your free consultation today.
Seattle Estrangement Counselors
What is estrangement?
Estrangement is considered on a spectrum. The estrangement spectrum includes: emotional cut-off, limited contact, no physical contact, and complete cut-off. Some individuals may be satisfied with their amount of contact, while others would like to change the amount of contact. Some may feel unsure about how much contact they would like, and it is common for individuals to change their mind regarding increasing or decreasing contact.
Who experiences estrangement?
An adult child or an emancipated minor may initiate estrangement from their parent(s).
Parent(s) may initiate estrangement from their adult child. In some instances, one parent will remain in their child’s life while another parent becomes uninvolved in their child’s life.
A minor may experience parental abandonment, if one or both parent(s) leave the family system while the child is still a minor.
Siblings may become estranged. This may be the only estrangement, or it may be in addition to other estrangements.
Estrangement can happen with any family relationship, including the extended family. This may include grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, cousins, or other kin.
Estrangement may originate in the family of origin, or in the extended family. In some instances, the extended family may become a secondary estrangement as a result from being cut off from the family of origin.
Causes of Estrangement
Estrangement is most commonly initiated because of traumatic experiences involving the other person. This may include current or historical experiences of abuse, neglect, incest, substance use issues, domestic violence, or severe mental illness in the family.
When a family rejects an individual’s identity, the individual may become estranged. Examples of identity rejection includes: sexual orientation, gender identity, or religious identity. When family rejects an individual’s romantic partner, this may also cause estrangement. In some cases, rejecting the individual’s romantic partner may also be related to identity (i.e. racism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.).
Estrangement may also be caused by less obvious reasons, which makes it incredibly difficult for individuals to explain their situation to others. In these situations, it is the small harmful memories that add up over time, eventually reaching the point where the relationship is no longer tolerable.
How Estrangement Impacts Mental Health
Individuals need to process the grief and loss related to being cut off from their family. In many instances, this may be considered disenfranchised grief, which is a type of loss not openly addressed in society. In some cultures, there is a great deal of shame associated with experiencing estrangement.
If the estrangement involved traumatic experiences, there is a possibility of developing Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.
It is common for individuals to develop other mental health disorders as a result of stressors associated with estrangement, such as anxiety disorders, eating disorders, depression, addictions, sleep disorders, or an adjustment disorder.
Treatment for Estrangement
Going to therapy for estrangement-related issues can be incredibly healing. During therapy sessions, the therapist will support your choices regarding the amount of contact (or lack thereof) that you would like to have with your family. The purpose of therapy is to support your growth and healing.
Trauma-informed treatment methods may be used to help you reduce trauma symptoms and heal from adverse family experiences. EMDR is one method that is especially useful in treating issues related to estrangement.
Grief counseling may be integrated into therapy, in order to help you heal from the layers of loss involved in estrangement.
Therapy treatment will be individualized for your needs. Some individuals may want to build skills, such as coping skills, developing resources, or increasing support systems. Other individuals may simply need a space where your story can be heard and respected. Ultimately, you and your therapist will develop a treatment plan tailored to your needs and your situation.
What type of therapy do you recommend?
If you are an individual who has chosen to continue the estrangement, we recommend individual counseling. Depending on your needs, talk therapy, trauma therapy, grief counseling, or EMDR therapy might be an appropriate therapy method. If applicable, it may be helpful to pursue couples counseling in addition to individual therapy, so you can address the ways the estrangement has impacted your relationship. If you are in a family that has chosen to try reconciling, we recommend family therapy.
Do you facilitate mediations?
Anchor Light Therapy Collective does not currently offer legal mediation as a service. We would recommend for you to reflect on what your purpose is for seeking services. If the purpose is to pursue legal action, we recommend seeking legal counsel. If the purpose is to rebuild a relationship through family therapy, we can help.
Do you facilitate family reconciliations?
If all participants agree that they would like to work towards reconciliation, we can provide family therapy as a space to work through the reconciliation. We will not provide family therapy if one or more family members do not consent for treatment. We will not provide services related to locating estranged family members. All family members must voluntarily come to family therapy in order to participate in services.
We do not participate with any insurance panels. Anchor Light Therapy Collective is considered an out-of-network provider.
As a courtesy to any individual clients who wish to utilize their insurance benefits, We are happy to verify your out-of-network plan benefits to tell you what portion, if any, may be covered by your health insurance provider.