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Surviving Dysfunctional Families:
Group Therapy for ACMIs


The adult children of emotionally disturbed parents, like the adult children of alcoholics, have suffered a degree of deprivation and abuse that often leaves them struggling with issues of distrust and low self-esteem. As the recovery process begins, it is often essential to share the painful memories with others who grew up in similarly dysfunctional families.

A supportive group can provide:
  • An antidote to the isolation and stigma of growing up with an emotionally disturbed parent.
  • A setting in which to learn about limiting patterns of behavior acquired in a dysfunctional family.
  • A protected environment in which to begin to practice new ways of relating to others.

Who Can Benefit:
The membership of these groups includes people with a variety of family histories. Some individuals had a parent who was treated for a mental illness. Others had a parent whose disturbance was not diagnosed but who had violent or erratic behavior, or who showed symptoms of severe depression or anxiety.


Group Structure:
These groups are designed with a long-term commitment in mind. Typically, the earlier weeks of the group involve a great deal of sharing about the members' backgrounds. As the similarities and differences in histories emerge, participants begin to understand each other's coping styles and current issues. Later phases involve increased group interaction as members begin to focus attention on what kind of contact they are making with one another and how their styles of interacting are connected with their family histories. Participants are encouraged to try out new ways of interacting that can help their relationships become more alive and rewarding.

The groups meet weekly for two hours and are limited to eight members. An interview is requested before members are admitted to the group.

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Eva M. Brown, LCSW      Telephone: 510.635.5063       Email: evambrown@aol.com