Family Secrets in Family Therapy

Families often do not have models for necessary instrumental, problem-solving, and emotional conversations required when confronted with serious illness. This lack leads easily to anxiety, silence, distance, and secrecy at the very time when people most need one another. Family therapy focused on the place of illness in family relationships and the impact of secrets can provide direction for openness and the recovery of closeness, warmth, and mutual support.


Secrets are relational. They are born, flourish, maintain, and, perhaps, dissolve within networks of our most important relationships—between spouses, parent and children, siblings. They may cascade down generations and across boundaries. Secrets may be shaped within larger institutions, such as a medical system, and directly impact patients and families. Or they may be created at the highest ...

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