There is no doubt that an individual’s substance use disorder can have a profound effect on the entire family system. In fact, the family may adopt unhealthy coping techniques in an attempt to continue functioning, which only has the net effect of prolonging the loved one’s substance use. For this and many other reasons, family-focused therapy is a central component in treatment programs. So, what does family therapy look like?n.
What is family therapy?
Family therapy is a type of group therapy that focuses on treating the family system and is integral to achieving positive and sustainable results from substance use treatment. Family-focused sessions are designed to identify any dysfunction or sources of stress in the family dynamic, as well as to provide an additional layer of support for their loved one.
Family therapy may include parents, siblings, children, or spouses, depending on the relationship with the individual in recovery. The sessions and treatment strategies are crafted to address the specific needs of each family.
Early on, the family works with the therapist to set objectives and goals for achieving improved family functioning. Family therapy uses assorted techniques to help the members reach these goals, such as group discussions, exercises and role-playing. Some of the psychotherapies utilized in family therapy might include:
- Family behavior therapy
- Solutions-focused brief therapy
- Behavioral couples therapy
- Brief strategic family therapy
The importance of family support during treatment
Nowhere is recovery support more essential than within the family structure. These relationships tend to be the most meaningful in an individual’s life, so obtaining the support of family members can be a powerful driver of sustained sobriety.
While in treatment, the family and their loved one are able to work through emotions and begin the healing process together. Any unhealthy coping strategies, such as enabling or codependence, can be examined and dismantled. The family is also educated about their loved one’s substance use disorder, and prepared for their successful transition from treatment back to the home environment.
What are the benefits of family therapy in recovery?
The positive impact of family support in recovery is reinforced by several studies that have researched this topic and collected valuable data. Consider the many recognized benefits of family therapy for individuals in recovery:
- Gives them motivation: Participating in family therapy helps motivate the individual to continue being engaged in recovery.
- Improves communication: Family therapy guides members to cultivate more effective communication skills.
- Improves relationships: Family members are introduced to conflict-resolution, emotion regulation and problem-solving skills.
- Teaches the importance of boundaries: During family therapy sessions the family and the loved one are advised to set healthy boundaries.
- Educates the family: The family learns about the disease of addiction and how to be supportive of their loved one in recovery.
- Helps heal past wounds: Family members have often suffered during their loved one’s period of active substance use, so therapy assists with healing.
- Reduces the risk of relapse: Studies show that individuals who have a supportive family in recovery are less prone to relapse.
- Promotes self-care: Family therapy addresses the needs of family members, encouraging them to engage in self-care and to join support groups to protect their own wellbeing.
- Teaches relapse warning signs: Family members are taught to recognize the signs of an impending relapse so they can possibly intervene.
The role of family support in a loved one’s recovery journey is multi-faceted and can have a powerful impact on their willingness and ability to sustain sobriety.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call 866-313-6307.