Substance abuse has a high correlation with family dysfunction. People who embark on the journey of recovery often face a wide range of feelings like resentment, hostility, apathy, and guilt from their loved ones. The people in your life may not understand your condition. They may view your experiences with stigma or judgment, or feel responsible for not doing more to help. This problem stems in part from widespread misinformation due to a lack of education on rehabilitation and mental health. Family therapy is one way to combat this disconnect and encourage family members to learn more about the effects of substance abuse and recovery in a safe, judgment-free space.
The purpose of family therapy is to create a supportive and balanced family environment. Family therapy comes in several different formats. Its most common iteration entails several family members taking part in talk therapy together. A therapist will lead discussions on various stressful aspects of the individual relationships and the family dynamic as a whole. This process works to help each person reach an understanding and find ways of improving the family bond through behavioral changes. Each family has unique issues, and tailored therapy will address the most relevant ones. Sometimes family therapy requires only a handful of sessions, while others run deeper and can take longer.
The term “family therapy” can sound misleading; in truth, people in many types of relationships find it useful. There is no requirement for you to be related by blood or marriage to engage in family therapy. Children, parents, extended family members, spouses, and romantic or non-romantic partners alike can benefit from its practice.
By practicing family therapy, you’ll work towards a selection of main goals. You will learn to effectively communicate, improve problem-solving skills, learn to understand the perspectives of others, and become educated on mental health, addiction, and recovery. All parties are meant to leave therapy with a deeper understanding of one other and increased empathy. You can use these improvements as a starting point to rebuild a damaged or neglected relationship.
According to a 2020 article by the National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences in India, participating in family therapy can:
Family therapy is generally short-term. Each session goes over a specific aspect of your relationship. You and your loved ones will learn the skills needed to bridge gaps that may have grown between you. Family therapy is not a magic cure-all; even after the sessions are over, there will still be work to be done. The fruits of your sessions simply make it easier to get started on that work.
How a session plays out will depend on multiple factors, including how many people are attending, the source of the issue, what everyone feels comfortable with, and whether you are doing therapy remotely or in person. There are a few basic steps you can expect to take, including:
Not everyone is going to be open to family therapy. Timing is essential, as is the way you approach them about the idea. You may have to educate them about what treatment entails. There are numerous stigmas associated with therapy and mental health in general. If your loved one is from an older generation, they may have an outdated and inaccurate understanding of what ‘therapy’ means. Here are a few tips for successfully bringing up the subject of family therapy: