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What is Family Therapy?

Addiction has been described as a “family disease” because it affects the sufferer and their loved ones.  Many treatment facilities offer family therapy as a way to facilitate the rebuilding of family relationships that have been damaged by addiction and alcoholism.

Family plays a major role in addiction and recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Substance Abuse Treatment and Family Therapy, “It is important to understand the complex role that families can play in substance abuse treatment. They can be a source of help to the treatment process, but they also must manage the consequences of the IP’s [Identified Patient’s] addictive behavior. Individual family members are concerned about the IP’s substance abuse, but they also have their own goals and issues. Providing services to the whole family can improve treatment effectiveness.” To be effective, treatment must address a variety of psychological, behavioral, and social factors, and family is an important aspect of addiction.

The concept of family can vary from person to person. Any person with whom an individual has an emotional connection and can be important to the treatment process can be considered a part of one’s family. SAMHSA explains, “In some situations, establishing an individual in treatment may require a metaphoric definition of family, such as the family of one’s workplace. As treatment progresses, the idea of family sometimes may be reconfigured, and the notion may change again during continuing care. In other cases, clients will not allow contact with the family, may want the counselor or therapist to see only particular family members, or may exclude some family members.” Anyone who can provide support in the treatment process, or with whom the individual has a strong and enduring emotional bond can be an important part of family therapy, even if they do not fall under the traditional definition of “family.”

Family therapy brings together the important people in a person’s life in attempt to openly discuss the problems and consequences related to one’s addiction. SAMHSA explains, “In family therapy, the unit of treatment is the family, and/or the individual within the context of the family system. The person abusing substances is regarded as a subsystem within the family unit—the person whose symptoms have severe repercussions throughout the family system. The familial relationships within this subsystem are the points of therapeutic interest and intervention. The therapist facilitates discussions and problem-solving sessions, often with the entire family group or subsets thereof, but sometimes with a single participant, who may or may not be the person with the substance use disorder.” Being open and receptive to family therapy can help repair the damaged relationships that have occurred as a result of addiction, and aid in the development of important family support systems to help an individual flourish in their recovery.

When a person is suffering from the disease of addiction, it affects everyone. Recovery is possible, and your loved one can be free from the chains of addiction. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, offers a highly effective residential treatment program that includes medically-supported detoxification, maintenance care, individual therapies, counseling (including family therapy), and plans to help clients build life skills that will help them after discharge. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431