How Therapy After Brain Injury Can Help Identify the Elephant in the Room

Family therapist Taryn Stejskal talks about the effectiveness of subtly asking the family questions to elicit answers about the "elephant in the room" no one wants to talk about.

See more of Dr. Taryn Stejskal's videos here.

I love the idea of the elephant in the room, because what that brings to mind is this giant animal that everybody knows is there and no one wants to talk about, right? So we have a couple of choices as clinicians, right? We can point out the elephant in the room which sometimes is a good idea and sometimes is not a good idea. It's not a good idea if the family rules or the family scripts indicate that we don't talk about difficult things, and if we break those rules or we break those scripts, especially without having a relationship with the family, they're not going to come back to work with us anymore, right? So if we have a relationship with the family and we think it's therapeutically important, we can talk about that giant pachyderm in the corner, right? Another strategy is to have the family point out the elephant in the room. We don't have to blow that whistle, and we can do that, I think, by asking questions that elicit family feedback and experience by saying, "Tell me about how your family relates to alcohol." Right? Or "When Melissa goes out on her own or goes to college, what are the greatest strengths that you think she will take and what are the greatest fears that you have for her?" And I think by using questions, a lot of times we can uncover these things without being the sort of the clinical whistle blower.
Posted on BrainLine January 8, 2013.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Jared Schaubert, BrainLine, and Dan Edblom.