An Overview of Family Therapy in Recovery
Whether you are in active recovery or not, you have probably heard the idea that addiction is a family issue. While this saying might sound familiar, it might not be clear what this means, exactly. If one person struggles with addiction, how can the effects spread throughout the whole family?
Addiction is a serious issue that touches every aspect of a person’s life. It negatively impacts their physical and emotional health, keeps them from handling responsibilities at home, work, or school, and can wreak havoc on their finances. Family members and other supportive people often are left to fill in the gaps left by addiction. Over time, these additional responsibilities and concerns begin to affect their health and wellbeing, too. Family members of people with substance abuse disorder often face threats to their safety, have to work to maintain good boundaries, and often struggle with guilt, anger, confusion, or other difficult feelings.
Family patterns and roles can also contribute to a person’s substance abuse. Someone may use substances to dull emotions that come from past traumas or may be enabled by well-meaning loved ones. Addiction is a family disease, and addiction treatment must include the entire family to be effective. Here’s what you can expect from family therapy in recovery.
How to Incorporate Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment
For most people, addiction treatment begins with detox. After this period, people can begin their treatment, which usually involves a combination of medications, education, and therapy. This is usually the ideal time to begin family therapy.
Family therapy allows the person who struggles with addiction to move forward in recovery. It can give family members the education they need to best support someone in their recovery, and to promote forgiveness and moving on as a family unit. Working together with a counselor, there is less risk of emotional harm and more possibility of real, long-lasting progress.
Family therapy in addiction treatment can be started after someone has gone through detox and has started a substance abuse treatment program. It can be continued regularly throughout the program and during aftercare. Many people find that family therapy is an important part of their recovery and choose to continue it long after treatment ends. The length of treatment depends on each person’s needs and their family members’ availability and willingness to participate.
Choosing Family Therapy in Recovery
There are many benefits to family involvement in recovery. These include:
- Processing negative emotions
- Improving communication
- Identifying and correcting dysfunctional patterns
- Creating structure and boundaries
- Creating and agreeing to a plan
- Learning about addiction as a family issue
It is important to ensure that your family’s involvement is appropriate and will be beneficial, though. You may find that your family members are not open to therapy yet, aren’t ready to process their negative emotions, or you may not have a generally good relationship with certain family members. Or, family members may be struggling with their own addiction or substance abuse issues.
If family members are not open to being involved in family therapy when you are going through addiction treatment, you may be able to work together at some point in the future. Be thoughtful about who you would like to invite into your recovery, and respect where they are in the process.
What Does Family Support in Recovery Look Like?
Once you have decided who will be invited into your recovery and they have agreed, you and your treatment team will come up with a schedule for family therapy. In most cases, family meetings occur regularly throughout treatment alongside your individual and group therapy sessions. During family therapy, you can expect to:
- Set goals–work together to identify what successful recovery means to your family and identify each person’s role in working towards these goals
- Learn about addiction–together, you will be educated about addiction, recovery, and the family’s role in recovery support
- Identify patterns–you will learn to recognize patterns of thoughts and behaviors that run through the family system and will work to understand how they contribute to substance abuse
- Identify enabling behavior–the family members will learn to identify actions they have taken that could have supported addiction and will learn how to stop doing these
- Learn coping skills–together, you will learn how to manage emotions and challenges without resorting to old, dysfunctional patterns
Family support in recovery can be a challenging and rewarding process for everyone involved. It takes sustained commitment and openness that sometimes takes time to develop. When families are willing and able to participate in family therapy, they learn how to move forward. They become stronger and healthier together.
Get Your Family Involved in Therapy At Our West Palm Beach Recovery Center
If you or someone you love require supportive addiction treatment, please reach out to the staff at the Mandala Healing Center. We work with people at every stage of their recovery and want to empower you to live a full, healthy life without substances. Call today to get started.