Family Therapy

Relationships are an important part of the fabric of our lives.
Our siblings, parents, cousins, and grandparents have a significant influence on each of us as individuals. Many people have loving families that are supportive and nurturing, but that’s not always the case. Some family dynamics are unhealthy and can cause real issues within the family system.

For people in addiction treatment, repairing the family dynamic is essential. There could be underlying traumas, tension, or other issues at play that fuel addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. The process of repairing strained relationships is achieved through family therapy.

What is Family Therapy?

Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that is used to address conflict and distress within family systems. The term “family” can be used to refer to biological family members or non-relatives that play a long-term and supportive role in a person’s life. One individual in a family may decide to seek family therapy for the group, or it may be a collective decision to seek professional help together.

Research shows that family therapy is an effective approach. After receiving consistent treatment, nearly 90% of clients report improved emotional health, and about 66% reported improved physical health. When a child is the main focus of family therapy, 73% of parents reported improved performance in school and improve sociability with other kids.

Why Do People Get Family Therapy?

There are many reasons why people seek family therapy.

Most commonly, people get family therapy following a traumatic event that affects the family as a whole. Here are some of the specific reasons why families get professional family therapy:

 

  • Divorce
  • Death of a loved one
  • Incarceration of a loved one
  • Domestic violence
  • Family member with an eating disorder
  • Family member with an addiction
  • Family member with a mental health illness
  • Family member with behavioral issues
Signs of marijuana addiction

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

How does Family Therapy Work?

Family therapy is rooted in improving communication and reducing conflict. It allows family members to come together in a safe space to discuss their feelings, emotions, and concerns in a productive way. Over time, they develop coping mechanisms to eliminate tension at home and learn how to deal with certain situations in a healthy way.

The therapeutic approach for family therapy is much different than individual therapy. Family therapists are trained in the family therapy treatment framework that is standardized for all mental health professionals. Most counselors receive special education, and many hold a credential from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT).

In a typical family therapy session, the therapist starts by examining the family’s ability to individually express themselves in a productive way and solve problems together. They look at family roles and identify the patterns that are contributing to the problem. Lastly, the therapist will observe the family’s strengths and weaknesses.

Once the therapist understands the patterns and how they fuel family conflict, he or she can suggest coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms allow the family to deal with issues in a healthy and productive way, without acting on impulse or making the problem worse. The family members will also set goals for themselves and work on ways to achieve them.

Unlike individual therapy, family therapy is designed to be a short-term treatment. According to the AAMFT, family therapy is usually completed in 12 sessions, on average. People who struggle within their family unit can continue to get individual treatment after family therapy ends if they need additional support.

family therapy for parents

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.

Does Every Family Member Need to Agree to Therapy?

One of the misconceptions about family therapy is that every family member must agree to treatment and be present in the sessions.

That’s actually not the case. Family therapy is most effective when everyone attends and is open to treatment, but it’s not required. You can have a successful family therapy session when just several people in the family attend.

However, family therapy only works when the people involved are committed. They need to be open to receiving treatment, improving their behaviors, and improving the family dynamic as a whole. Think of your family as a team—everyone needs to be working towards the same goal in order for family therapy to be effective.

How is Family Therapy Used in Addiction Recovery?

When a parent or child is dealing with a substance abuse disorder, going to family therapy can be beneficial

It allows each family member to voice their concerns and share their emotions in a safe space. The person struggling with addiction can see how their behaviors affect the people around them, which isn’t always known.

Addiction can be an incredibly stressful situation for a family to deal with. Most family members want to help their loved ones overcome their disorder, but they don’t always know how to cope. Some family members feel resentment or anger towards loved ones with addiction. In either case, the lack of support from family members can make someone’s substance abuse disorder even worse.

Addiction is often viewed as a family disorder because it starts within a family system. There could be trauma, abuse, abandonment, co-dependencies, enabling, or other challenges that cause a family member to start using drugs or alcohol. Over time, those problems tend to get worse until they are addressed and resolved. Family therapy allows loved ones to overcome their problems together and strengthen their relationship.

If you or someone in your family is struggling with addiction, contact us at (888) 855-6877 to learn about the treatment programs at Nexus Recovery.

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 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.

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