Family therapy is the process whereby a psychiatrist, therapist or counselor treats a patient along with their support system, including family members, significant others, or those who have an established and important relationship with the patient. This can occur on an individual basis or a group basis, which includes multiple family systems in the process. Since drug addiction and alcoholism typically affects, or is in part created by the entire system, family therapy is fundamental in its treatment.
Family therapy includes the entire family system, or part of the family system who are treated together as a singular unit with less focus on any one individual. In Structural Family Therapy, each individual family member is identified as playing a unique role within the family system. The therapist will assist the family unit in identifying how each role functions in maintaining the family system; whether it be functional or dysfunctional. All patients at Behavioral Wellness & Recovery are greatly encouraged to participate in our family program while receiving drug and alcohol addiction treatment because the support system can highly influence the success of long-term recovery.
The purpose of family therapy is to create a safe and therapeutic environment where the family system and the sum of its working parts (individuals) can identify behavior patterns. The overall goal is to strengthen positive behavior and communication patterns, while replacing negative patterns with newly learned techniques and skills that are healthier and more fulfilling. If only one member of the family unit adopts new and healthy communication skills and behavior patterns, the family unit is less likely to benefit, and the newly adopted behaviors can regress. Behavioral Wellness and Recovery is a family-centric program and seeks to treat the entire unit.
In family therapy, an individualized treatment plan for the family system is developed to address the concerns that prompted treatment, which requires the participation of the therapist and the family members. The development of the plan typically begins during the first family session and is adjusted in the following sessions.
During the first session, the purpose and process of family therapy is explained, the limits and expectations of the family therapy process are defined and the family system and therapist co-create “ground rules” for the sessions. It is important that the family utilizes effective and “fair” methods of communication so that they can hear and understand one another during treatment. At Behavioral Wellness and Recovery’s addiction treatment center, we use the LEAP model, which includes Listen, Empathize, Affirm, and Partner.
It is likely that at some point during the family therapy treatment process the therapist will request individual meetings with each family member. These individual meetings allow the treatment professional to gain a better understanding of the individuals within the family systems and their primary focus and concerns. Please remember that the therapist is not attempting to conceal information, but rather to learn as much as possible about each person’s role and his/her values, as each has varied perspectives and life experiences. Also, sharing information, and one’s true feelings and ideas is sometimes easier while not immediately facing the other family members. The individual sessions that compose part of the family therapy process are not considered to be individual therapy, but are conducted to assist the progression of family treatment.
Many different modalities of therapy can be utilized in the treatment of a family unit. Among the more common modalities are cognitive behavioral therapy, psychoeducation, crisis intervention, and various types of trauma therapy. Regardless of the modality used, the therapist engages the family in a therapeutic process of positive change. The first stage in this therapeutic process begins with the therapist joining the family system, developing rapport with all members, and establishing trust.
Oftentimes, family members of the drug addict or alcoholic who is being treated are unaware of their own emotional issues and dysfunctional patterns of thinking and behavior. Through the process of family therapy and inclusion in the drug and alcohol rehab treatment process, many chose to enter individual therapy themselves. Countless family units are amazed at the peace and freedom that they feel after participating in family therapy and at how strong the unit has become.
To learn more about Behavioral Wellness and Recovery’s family-centric drug and alcohol dual diagnosis rehab, please contact one of our Addiction Specialists at 800-683-4457. Our lines are open 24/7 and all information shared is confidential.
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