Freeing Ourselves from the Ghosts of Our Past
by Monica McGoldrick
When clients don’t confront and mourn their losses and family tragedies, they become stuck, fixed in time and unable to move forward. In this riveting narration of the life and work of pioneering family therapist Norman Paul, Monica McGoldrick teaches us how to help clients examine, explore, and ultimately break free from the unacknowledged and unmourned losses in their families, so that they may live fully in the present.
Most contemporary therapeutic models de-emphasize the past, leaving clinicians and their clients stuck chasing symptoms in the present. Further, individual-oriented treatments overlook the role of family systems in the origin and perpetuation of emotional pain and suffering. Having brought genograms alive in her clinical work with thousands of families, McGoldrick appreciates the individual’s place and experience within the family system across time. Trauma in the family is always in the rear-view mirror, transformed and resolved only when it is finally acknowledged and addressed.

Only later in life did Norman Paul learn about the secrets and ghosts locked away in the unspoken recesses of his family’s history. Murder, suicide, infant death, family upheaval and disintegration cast a pale over him, lifted only after fastidious research revealed the true origin of his family’s and his own pain. By watching this richly-narrated story of his family, you will learn to work more effectively from a systemic perspective with clients impacted by unacknowledged and unmourned loss. McGoldrick’s genograms of Paul’s family will deepen your ability to use this powerful tool in your own family therapy. Finally, you will learn to appreciate the critical impact of past painful events on the present, so that you can assist your clients in confronting the pain locked in their families of origin.

What therapists are saying…

"Anyone interested in how the past impacts the lives of our clients, and how this shaped the life of one of the luminaries in the Family Therapy movement should watch this amazing video. McGoldrick, world-famous for advocating the benefits of constructing family genograms, walks us through the genogram that Norman Paul worked out as he researched his own family background. I won’t spoil it by telling you what he discovered, but will say that it involved a scandal that made the newspapers--and that McGoldrick delivers on her promise of showing the relevance to Paul’s personal life. I give this video Four Stars!"

--Arthur Nielsen, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University
Faculty, The Chicago Psychoanalytic Institute and The Family Institute at Northwestern University
In Depth
Norman Paul believed that in order to live in the present, the past had to be acknowledged, its secrets revealed, and its losses mourned. In the spirit of Murray Bowen, who routinely challenged families while connecting with them, Paul used genograms to highlight family patterns and created dynamic videos in which he asked clients to confront themselves, their relatives and their feelings. He asked clients to speak with and walk in the footsteps of deceased relatives by visiting their gravesites, writing letters to them and even reviewing their asylum records. It was only by confronting and mourning the pain they inherited from their ancestors in these evocative ways that they could finally step out from the shadow of tragedy to live freely and fully.

This video will move you to deeper levels of personal and professional awareness and deepen your skills for working with families with unmourned loss.

Length of video: 0:27:41

English subtitles available

Group ISBN-10 #: 1-60124-562-9

Group ISBN-13 #: 978-1-60124-562-5

Monica McGoldrick, M.A., LCSW, Ph.D. (Honorary), the Director of the Multicultural Family Institute in Highland Park, New Jersey, is also Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She received an Honorary Doctorate from Smith for her many contributions to the field. Among many other awards, she has received the American Family Therapy Academy Award for Distinguished Contribution to Family Therapy Theory and Practice. She has written and spoken widely on a variety of topics including culture, class, gender, the family life cycle, loss, genograms, remarried families, and siblings. Three of her books have become best-selling classics of their publishers: The Changing Family Life Cycle, 3rd edition; Ethnicity and Family Therapy, 3rd edition; and Genograms: Assessment and Intervention, 3rd edition. See her website for more information on Monica McGoldrick and The Multicultural Family Institute.

See all Monica McGoldrick videos.

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