Are you thinking of getting more family members involved in your or a loved one’s recovery journey? This desire is natural because family members can offer the kind of emotional support necessary for successful, long-term recovery. Family therapy can also help address issues within the family that may have contributed to substance use disorder (SUD) and help all members heal and bond.
The Necessity of Family Therapy
Involving family members in SUD recovery treatment can positively impact client engagement and outcomes. Doing so also enhances long-term wellness because the home environment will be equipped for continued healing after treatment.
Here, the term “family” is used in a general sense to include many significant relationship structures. Normally, the word “family” simply refers to parents, spouses, children, and other blood relations. However, in the case of family therapy and treatment involvement, family members can also include unrelated persons who interact daily and play a significant role in each other’s lives, including friends, mentors, and sponsors.
The overall goals of family therapy include mobilizing the family to influence positive lifestyle change in recovering individuals as well as in the entire family system. When necessary, therapists help the family recognize behavioral, cognitive, and emotional responses that support or hinder their loved one’s recovery progress.
Benefits of Integrating Family Therapy
Apart from the obvious benefit of emotional support, family therapy may help the recovering individual to regain emotional clarity about interpersonal boundaries. For example, a teenager may realize that their anxiety has been impacted by the emotional struggle between two parents who are having marital issues.
Family therapy can help restore emotional support by bringing light to and clearing up emotional difficulties within the family. When family members can be more emotionally vulnerable with each other, their relationships can feel less tense and more supportive, providing a sense of peace at home.
Assessment for Family-Based Interventions
Health professionals will first screen family members of individuals in recovery for situations that need family-based interventions. They may consider a combination of factors including family history, domestic violence, abuse, cognitive impairment, and mental health issues.
For example, if there is domestic violence or emotional abuse involved between couples while one is in recovery, joint counseling is generally not recommended. Additionally, if someone is going through intense withdrawal symptoms, family therapy is not ideal until those symptoms subside. What makes family therapy a beneficial part of treatment is the potential for stable sobriety and positive change.
Understanding the Family System and Subsystems
Families are complex systems of human relationships. All families include subsystems or clusters of people within the larger group. Health professionals may need to work with different subsets of family members before bringing in the whole family to address treatment goals.
To select which family members to involve, health professionals must first understand the relationship dynamics. The chosen family members should be recovery-supportive and interested in improving the recovering family member’s well-being. They must have a baseline of rapport and support among them.
Finding the right people can be done by interviewing family members. Health professionals can inform them that the focus is on developing a support system for their loved ones. They assess the current family functionality and the role of SUD on family dynamics.
Different Models of Family Therapy
There are many ways to facilitate family-based therapy or interventions. A common method is family-based behavioral therapy. This structured approach focuses on observing patterns of interaction and improving them. Similar to other group therapies, such as the 12-Step program, family-based behavioral therapy is known to be very effective.
Another integrative approach that addresses SUD and co-occurring mental health problems is risk reduction family therapy. Health professionals ask the recovering individual to recall specific feelings and memories of experiences within the family that negatively affected them. The professional will then guide the family to discuss and improve communication and reduce risk factors in the home environment.
Facilitating Collaboration in Family Therapy
Family engagement and collaboration are essential for the success of family therapy. To optimize treatment outcomes, health professionals should identify strengths across the family system. This helps set a positive tone for sessions and motivates family members to discuss their problems.
Another facilitation skill is reflective listening which requires the therapist to accurately summarize both the content and meaning of a conversation in a way that feels supportive. When this reflection is communicated from an outside party, it creates space for the recovering individual and other family members to pause and think before reacting or making assumptions.
Empathy is key in family therapy sessions. When blame happens, for example, therapists must reorient the conversation so that each party can step into the others’ shoes before jumping to conclusions. They need to transform a negative reaction from family members into something that reflects strength and highlights opportunities for improvement.
When one family member is ill with the disease of addiction, the entire family system feels the effects. Family therapy is an important part of SUD recovery treatment. The family is a system of closely connected parts. Helping the family system heal can support the person struggling with addiction. Laguna Shores Recovery offers several therapeutic approaches for family therapy. At Laguna Shores Recovery, our experienced mental health professionals and compassionate staff know the value of family-based interventions. We will walk alongside you or your loved one to offer support and guidance. You can trust that your loved one is getting the best care for the strongest recovery with us, and you can help by getting involved in family therapy. Call us today to discover how you can be part of our community, as family support is key to you or your loved one’s recovery. For more information, call 866-934-5276.