The Identified Patient

In working with families, I am often contacted to counsel a child who is “acting out”. This child often gets labeled as the “Identified Patient.” This is a psychology term describing an individual, usually a child or teen, in a dysfunctional family who:

1) Gets scapegoated and blamed for a family’s problems;

2) Has emotional problems that are not a mental illness, but a normal response to the stress of dealing with an unhealthy family in denial;

3) Blows the whistle on a dysfunctional family’s problems;

That’s why I practice (and teach at Stevenson University) a form of counseling called “Family Therapy”. This involves meeting with the entire family to examine and discuss the unique dynamics within the family system.

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