Family Therapy

at White House Recovery & Detox

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.

What is Family Therapy?

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.


Is Family Therapy Only for Relatives?

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. 


What is the Goal of Family Therapy?

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:

  • Eliminate family-related barriers that may affect treatment 
  • Provide family support that can improve engagement in therapy 
  • Reduce aspects of the family environment that may contribute to a relapse

What to Expect From a Session

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:

  • Looking at family roles, rules, expectations, and behaviors from an outside perspective to see how they impact your relationships
  • Learning to effectively communicate your needs and boundaries 
  • Discussing your collective ability to productively solve problems and resolve emotional issues
  • Acknowledging the consequences of actions taken while under the influence of an addictive substance in a healthy and positive way


Approaching Your Family About Therapy

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:

  • Stay calm and empathetic no matter how negatively they respond to the suggestion. Your loved one’s reaction may come from a place of fear or ignorance. 
  • Have educational resources on hand that you can share with them, such as links, brochures, or books. 
  • Do not pressure them into going to therapy with you. Adding pressure or guilt could cause resentment and make any relationship issues worse. Instead, be patient and understanding. 
  • Try to see the request from their point of view.
  • Communicate honestly and clearly. Explain why you feel that family therapy could be good for you both.
  • If you know that your loved one has a specific reservation, do some research so you can dispel inaccurate beliefs about recovery and therapy. 
  • Give them time to get used to the idea instead of creating an ultimatum. 

We are here for you

Family therapy can be an integral part of the recovery process. The behaviors and actions you take while under the influence of an addictive substance can damage your relationships with loved ones. Exploring those issues in a supported and guided environment makes it easier to find common ground and start healing emotional wounds. There is also evidence that educating loved ones about the importance of mental health can lower the risk of a relapse. Working together with a therapist can provide an outside perspective capable of bringing clarity and facilitating real change. The staff at White House Recovery and Detox can help you and your loved ones to reconnect in a positive and healthy way. We are here to help you succeed in recovery and beyond.