What is Family Systems Therapy?

There are many types of therapies for those who struggle with mental, emotional, or psychological problems, but family therapy is unique in that it helps heal an entire family unit at once.

A loved one’s problem with substance abuse creates a ripple effect that ends up affecting everyone in the family, including the parents of someone going through this. This is the reason why family therapy is so important. Because addiction impacts the whole family, treatment is necessary for the entire group of people who are bonded by marriage, blood, or adoption. Nexus Recovery offers therapy for families as one of its programs that reach out to help those impacted by addiction.

What is Therapy for Families?

When looking at families through the lens of family systems therapy, you examine the individuals as part of a whole: one emotional unit that is cohesive. Members of a family have intense emotional connections. Each member in a functioning family plays a particular role, following specific rules. Based on the system’s roles, people are simply expected to respond to each other in a certain way, interacting with each other in ways that form patterns. Family systems therapy is a form of psychotherapy that addresses the individuals as parts of their nuclear, step, or extended families to ensure the units function smoothly.

What Constitutes a Family?

Family can be a complicated subject. While many people assume the concept to be limited to the nuclear family of two parents and children, many variations exist. A family is described as a group of individuals united by certain ties, whether they are of marriage, blood, or adoption. This group constitutes a single household that intercommunicates and interacts with each other, each in his or her respective social role. These roles unite in a common culture.

The Types of Family

The structure of families has changed significantly over the span of 50 years; no longer is the sitcom family of the 1950’s the standard unit. Based on the research, the number of family variations is six. The varieties include the following:

  • Nuclear family: the traditional familial structure consisting of two parents and children.
  • Single Parent Family: A single parent raises a child or children on his or her own.
  • Extended Family: Many relatives live together while working toward goals held in common.
  • Childless Family: Couples who either cannot have children or choose not to.
  • Stepfamily: More than half of marriages culminate in divorce; when many divorcees seek to remarry, they form a blended or stepfamily.
  • Grandparent Family: This exists when children are raised by their grandparents for whatever reason.

Types of Family Systems Therapy

Professionals typically utilize one of four varieties of family therapies. These can address, among other aspects of life or behaviors, family relationships, trauma, parenting issues, adult mental health, couple relationships, the behavior of children or adolescents, and emotional disorders such as depression, loss, grief, and anxiety. The therapies include:

  • Supportive: Providing an open, safe environment where all family members can express their feelings, this therapy provides opportunities for families to come together while a therapist can provide practical advice.
  • Systemic: This is based on the feelings of the entire family, identifying problems within the dynamics of a family as a whole; here the therapist attempts to shift attitudes, problems, and relationships to positions that are less damaging, more realistic, or otherwise more beneficial.
  • Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy: These techniques seek to change people’s ways of thinking and their behavior for the reduction or elimination of problems; a therapist may assign homework to each family member with this principle in mind.
  • Psychodynamic Ideas: This therapy type delves into an individual’s subconscious, reducing problems by targeting underlying problems with the theory that family members can better tackle difficulties when they know the real reasons beneath strife.

In addition to physical cravings, someone with an addiction issue will also spend a tremendous amount of time thinking about their drug of choice. These thoughts become a compulsion and impossible to control, which leads to drug-seeking behavior that can sometimes be criminal.

Feelings of depression, sadness, anxiety, despair, and the like are often at the root of substance abuse. The substance might temporarily mask these feelings, but they return once the high wears off, creating a vicious circle of drug abuse.

Taking a substance will temporarily stop the cravings and compulsion for it, but soon the same feelings return. In time, it takes more and more of the same substance to achieve the same effect it once had.

People addicted to drugs and alcohol may feel like they have no control over their drug use. Refraining from using or stopping seems to be an impossibility for them. The substance controls them, rather than the other way around.

Someone addicted to drugs or alcohol will continue to seek them out even if their addiction has made them lose friends, family, spouses, and jobs. Drug-seeking behavior can even lead to diseases such as hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.

If you are considering treatment for yourself or a loved one, call us today.

Goals of Treatment for Families

Therapy for families has three main goals. The first is to help members of a family unit improve their intercommunication skills. The second is to solve problems that may exist in a family. The third is to handle particular family situations that range from death to serious illness, either physical or mental, to adolescent or child issues. These all work together to build a home environment that functions better for all. Addiction is a disease that impacts the whole family. To particularly mend the wounds caused by addiction, our treatment plans help foster healing.

Tips for Successful Family Treatment Sessions

Certain actions and behaviors will ensure success in sessions of family treatment. First is simply giving it a chance. This can be difficult to achieve because it requires flexibility in all family members; as a unit, the family must decide to try. Second is finding the right therapist. You should feel comfortable with opening up after a few sessions. If a therapist does not seem effective, do not stress about it, simply seek another therapist. Most of the professionals do not take this personally. Not every therapist is the right fit for every family. Lastly, it’s important to prepare for therapy as well.

Preparing for a Therapy Session

Our Outpatient Program at Nexus Recovery Services is focused on giving clients goals; family members can help achieve these goals with sufficient preparation. Each family member should consider issues to discuss or questions to ask. These can be jotted down prior to the session for the greatest efficiency and so no one forgets their intended talking points. If you clash with another family member at every chance, decide carefully what to say to that member in therapy. Remain respectful, but be strong. Speak calmly and try to avoid arguing. Allow the therapist room to speak and listen with an open mind.

We can assist with treatment for families at our Intensive Outpatient Program in Los Angeles. Our clinical team prepares treatment plans that make use of client input during the curation process. Family therapy is an important step in healing the difficulties caused by addiction in one or more family members. When one part of the family unit is addicted, everyone is affected. Reach out to learn more about how we can help here at Nexus Recovery Services.

If you or a loved one are suffering from alcohol or drug addiction, we’re here to help. Contact us today and speak with one of our trusted recovery advisors.

Sign up for our Monthly Newsletter and get our blogs delivered right to your inbox!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Call Now