Family therapy helps people deal with issues they cannot otherwise deal with on their own. Within certain confines, they begin to see their role in the family and how it impacts everyone else. There are some reasons why family counseling can help a loved one in treatment for addiction. If they are willing to own up to their part in everything, they can also take ownership of changing their pathway, which supports their loved one even more. Changing patterns is a huge part of family therapy. Family therapy supports people in moving forward in recovery and supports their journey forward.
Why Use Family Therapy
When family therapy is discussed, it may seem like it is something people do who are highly dysfunctional, have broken down, and cannot communicate at all with each other. The truth is, relationships are beneficial to each other and never mutually exclusive in a family. Each person needs the other. Therapy is often used to help people strengthen relationships in light of substance use, mental health issues, or other challenges they face. Family therapy is a specific therapeutic tool used by specialists to help people in a family learn tools to work better together. Learning to manage emotional responses, not reacting at the moment, and being more effective communicators with one another is part of the journey.
Systemic Family Therapy
Systems models are based on how systems function and operate. Families are one system. With multiple people involved in the sessions, the therapist is neutral. A therapist’s role is to engage everyone in the process, not just the person with the addiction issues. This helps bring up the issues everyone faces and how they can learn to navigate it together. They seek to play a background role that does not conflict with everyone else in the family. They are there as observers from the top down. Structural therapy works with examining power structures in the family. Parents are asked to examine their roles in the family and to focus on working together when dealing with children. It is more directed and focused on how hierarchical structures are at play in a relationship. Family relationships are a key part of the method. When families work together to cope with addiction, they can also learn how to heal together.
Another form of therapy is intergenerational therapy to review dynamics within the family. This method examines how previous generations of a family impact the current dynamic. Looking at structures and generations gives more insight into how and why things occur in the present time. This makes room for people to understand how and why things are the way they are, while also leaving room to create healing within those structures of the family.
Every family member of the family plays an important role. When addiction comes into play, family members are often playing other roles, as well. If the primary issues involve the parents and not children, then children do not need to be involved. If extended family members are involved, they should be included in how to navigate their family role in addiction. The roles people play are integral to healing for everyone, but especially the person in treatment. There are other family members who work to assist in their recovery. Offering ongoing support to help them follow treatment guidelines can be helpful. Family can make sure that treatment plans are made and worked out, ensure sessions are attended, and contribute during family therapy.
Family members offer a lot to someone in treatment who needs help in dealing with stressful situations. Coping with the stress of family life is key. Showing them how they can do it means walking through therapy, one step at a time, and outlining what needs to happen. They can be reminded of the coping strategies they have learned in treatment to help manage stress and other triggers. Family members may also encourage the loved one to embrace healthy living in all areas of life. Encouraging a healthy diet, getting exercise, and maintaining a sleep schedule is key to tracking wellness for that individual. In other ways, the family can become important for them to stay on top of their healing as a whole. When one person heals, the rest can sometimes follow. They see the example set and want to become better for themselves or their loved ones. While family therapy offers individuals in recovery and their families many benefits, support is crucial to extend outside of therapy sessions.
The goal of family therapy is to find hope for the person in treatment. Even if enabling behaviors kept them in addiction’s snare, that does not mean they were not responsible for their choices. However, everyone has choices to make in the treatment of someone with an addiction. They can choose to participate or continue being toxic. Some people are not ready to heal and need more time to deal with the challenges they face. They may take someone down in recovery, so it is important that people navigate addiction treatment with care and invite the family they know will be most willing to participate in the journey with them in a healthy way. There is hope after addiction, but it also means working with the family to try and find the best way forward possible for everyone involved.
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