When someone is affected by mental health issues or addiction, it can affect the entire family. Family therapy can help the all members recover and heal as a whole.
Family therapy is a crucial aspect of mental health and addiction treatment, yet it is often overlooked or misunderstood. The truth is, our families play a significant role in our well-being, and involving them in the treatment process can have a profound impact on recovery.
What is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy that involves working with families to improve their communication, resolve conflicts, and strengthen their relationships. It is based on the belief that family dynamics play a significant role in a person’s mental health and involving family can lead to better outcomes.
Family therapy may sound like something that’s only for families who are highly dysfunctional and cannot communicate at all. But the truth is, relationships are beneficial to each other and never mutually exclusive in a family.
What Happens During Family Therapy?
During family therapy, the therapist works with the family to create open and honest communication. This is crucial, as many issues arise within the family due to a breakdown in communication. By promoting healthy communication patterns, therapy helps families express their feelings and concerns in a safe, non-judgmental space.
Types of Family Therapy
There are different types of family therapy, and the approach used will depend on the therapist’s training, the family’s needs, and the issues being addressed. Some common types of include:
- Family Systems Therapy. This type of therapy focuses on how patterns of communication and behavior within a family can lead to emotional distress.
- Structural Family Therapy. This approach emphasizes the hierarchies and boundaries within a family, which may contribute to mental health and addiction issues.
- Multigenerational Therapy. This addresses how patterns of behavior and communication are passed down from generation to generation within a family.
- Narrative Therapy. This type of therapy uses storytelling to help individuals understand their experiences and how they have shaped their behavior.
Who Can Attend?
At one time, the word “family” meant people related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Today the definition embraces the many close relationships that form the foundations of your life.
Regarding family therapy, “family” means any group of two or more people who care about each other. By using this definition, each person in treatment for a behavioral health issue has a unique set of family members. Most importantly, it’s about bringing in the people who contribute to your emotional wellbeing. This can include:
- Spouses or partners
- Other relatives
Benefits of Family Therapy
Here are some reasons why family therapy is such a valuable tool in mental health and addiction treatment:
- Family is a source of support and stability.
The family unit plays a significant role in our lives. For most of us, our families are a source of love, support, and stability. But, when a family struggles with a member’s mental health or addiction, these support systems can become strained. Family therapy provides a safe space for everyone to express their feelings and create a more supportive, stable environment.
- Identifies underlying family dynamics
Addiction and mental health issues can often stem from underlying family dynamics that have gone unnoticed for years. Family therapy allows therapists to observe and address these patterns, helping members understand how their behavior may impact their loved one’s well-being. The whole family can move towards healthier and more functional relationships by identifying and addressing these dynamics.
- Encourages open communication
Communication is essential in any relationship, but when it comes to families dealing with mental health and addiction, it can be difficult to communicate effectively. Family therapy creates a safe and neutral space for family members to express their thoughts and feelings without judgment. This open communication can help family members better understand each other’s perspectives and work towards resolving conflicts.
- Fosters a sense of belonging
One of the most significant factors in mental health and addiction recovery is a sense of belonging. Family therapy emphasizes the importance of familial support and highlights that the individual is not alone in their struggles. It can help individuals feel connected to their family and give them a sense of purpose and belonging.
- Provides a support system for ongoing recovery
Including family is beneficial during the treatment process, and they can also be a valuable ongoing support system in recovery. By involving family, you can create a support network to stay on track even after treatment has ended.
- Promotes accountability
In therapy, all members have a role to play and it encourages each member to take responsibility for their actions. This can be a powerful tool in maintaining sobriety as they have the support and accountability of their family.
How to Find a Family Therapist
Now that we have established the benefits, how do you find a therapist?
- Ask for recommendations. The best way to find a good family therapist is to ask for recommendations from trusted sources. This could be your primary care doctor, a mental health professional, or a friend who has gone through therapy.
- Research online. Most therapists have a website or online profile where you can learn more about their qualifications and therapy approaches. Make sure to do your research and read reviews from other clients before making a decision.
- Contact your insurance provider. If you have health insurance, you can contact your provider for a list of in-network family therapists. This can help save you some money on therapy sessions.
- Schedule consultations. Finding a therapist you feel comfortable with and believe can help your family is essential. To help, many therapists offer free consultations, allowing you to ask questions before committing to regular sessions.
Family therapy can provide an effective approach to strengthen relationships, promoting healthy communication, and providing ongoing support for sustained recovery. Remember, you don’t have to face these challenges alone. Your family can be an essential part of your healing journey.