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Family Matters: Involving Siblings in the Family Quest™ Experience

Matthew Krugh, MSW | Family Services Director

Featured Team Members: Matthew Krugh, MSW

Are you curious about how the Family Quest™ could work for your unique family system? Do you have questions or reservations about including siblings on this endeavor? Can they even come along? By and large, the quick answer is a resounding, yes. The Open Sky Family Quest™ experience is a rich opportunity with the potential for deep learning and growth. It is open to all family members involved in the student’s therapeutic process that are at least 13 years old and approved by the primary therapist.

After all, a Family Quest™ is about (you guessed it!) family: Parent and child coming together with intentions to unify, understand, heal, and envision the way forward. The student, as an individual within the greater family dynamic, is poised to practice his or her newly cultivated mindfulness, self-regulation, and communication skills within the family unit. Parents, in the midst of their parallel journey, are ready to employ their similarly refined skills with their child. Through assertive and intentional work up to this point and during the Family Quest™, parents experience insight and growth opportunities of their own, empowering them to model and lead the change on a larger scale. Therefore, accompanying siblings also have the opportunity to benefit and be an active part of the family system’s shift towards healthier and holistic functioning. Each member plays a specific and vital role in the family, meaning that generally speaking, the involvement of all family members in Family Quest™ is essential and encouraged, when possible.

The critical shift within the family system is set into motion when parents and siblings enter the wilderness and gain perspective on the student’s experience. Reuniting within this context lays a foundation for the work that is done throughout the Family Quest™. Such appreciation and insight into the student’s wilderness experience can be profoundly humbling and awe-inspiring, providing the necessary inspiration to mobilize family members, especially siblings, to join the cooperative effort towards healthier change.

As mentioned above, in order to join the Family Quest, children must be at least 13 years old. But beyond the question of age, one may wonder if certain siblings are suitable for the family work taking place on Family Quest™. Indeed, this is an important consideration, as not every sibling may be ready to engage in the experience. Your student’s primary Clinical Therapist will help determine who is appropriate and encouraged to accompany. Our Family Quest™ experience is customized to each family, and the sibling relationship is regularly a significant factor and focus. We generally find that siblings who have been welcomed to join the experience are indeed ready and able to participate in this deep and meaningful process. Time and time again, they are more willing to rise to the occasion than others imagined them to be and prove to benefit the experience for all.

Whether younger or older, siblings often sense an opportunity in Family Quest™ that they had longed for but perhaps had not conceived. It awakens them to deepen their own personal work, heeding the call for positive change within the family system. Siblings bring their own powerful perspective and contributions to this familial endeavor, sometimes turning out to be the most catalytic members in attendance: the quiet onlookers with profound offerings and/or the ones best able to reach the students. The benefit flow is multidirectional. The student is deeply moved by their siblings’ attendance and perspective, securing his or her level of commitment to change and health moving forward. Parents gain a more comprehensive perspective on their family and are frequently gifted clarity into the emotional lives of their other children. The siblings themselves often leave with a grasp of their own work moving forward, along with tools and skills to assist them along the way. The valuable potential of sibling presence should not be neglected.

As a Family Services Therapist, I absolutely love having siblings on Family Quest™, be they younger or older. They bring so much to the experience and flesh out the family portrait for the benefit of all. They are frequently the unsung troopers, loyally and humbly carrying their fair share and more. Just as The Hollies sang:

The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where
Who knows where
But I’m strong
Strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

March 29th, 2018

Matthew Krugh, MSW | Family Services Director