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Navigating Through the Struggles and Complexities of Holiday Gatherings with the Help of Therapy

A Family Holiday Gathering Is Not Always Just a Gathering

Family on a dinner table filled with food, one woman looks sad, everyone else are on their phones

It could also be a trigger for someone who has been sexually abused by a family member who is in attendance at such gatherings. It could be the source of anxiety and panic for someone who is uncomfortable engaging socially. A family gathering could bring an intersection of varying political views that create feelings of being othered due to beliefs about gender identity, discrimination, health, safety, etc.

A holiday can also be a marker of grief and loss. What does it feel like to imagine spending a holiday without someone? Death is not the only way we can lose time with someone we care about. Loss can also be connected to someone who is incarcerated, someone who is medically bound in a care facility, or someone who is serving in the military. What is the impact of their absence? Holidays are linked to foods, traditions, scents, decorations—all of which can become triggers to feelings of grief and loss.

No two families are alike. Holidays can bring up different issues for blended families. How are holidays shared and how are they divided? Who feels included and who does not? What traditions continue and what new ones are introduced? How do family members adapt to these changes?

Reclaiming the Joy of the Holiday Season Through Therapy

High angle shot of a holiday spread/holiday table full of food and people filling their plates.

A therapist or psychologist can help you navigate triggers, explosive emotions, isolation, resentment, anxiousness and other emotions that can be tied to the holidays. With a listening ear and thoughtful interactive feedback, a therapist or psychologist can also help you make a plan that is attuned to your needs to get through the holidays. Why not give therapy a second thought this holiday season?

Written by:

Lauren Pena MFT, ATR, LMFT # 130687

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