Why Family Therapy Is an Important Part of Addiction Recovery
- Kate Pindera
- 15 Jun 2020
The wounds of addiction can cut deep, hurting not only the person who is struggling with the disease but their loved ones as well. It has the potential to foster an unhappy and hostile environment for everyone in the family, which can continue into and beyond recovery unless it is appropriately addressed.
Here at Freedom from Addiction, we believe that family therapy is just as important in the addiction recovery process as any other kind of treatment. In this blog, we’ll break down what family therapy is and how it can be incorporated into a holistic addiction recovery process.
What Is Family Therapy for Addiction?
Family therapy, or family and systemic psychotherapy, is a collection of therapeutic approaches that identify the family’s strengths and relational resources as a catalyst for change in a wide range of problems, including addiction.
What makes family therapy different from other traditional addiction treatment protocols is that instead of solely focusing on the recovery of the identified patient (IP), it seeks support from the family and provides an opportunity for them to heal and recover as well. It recognizes the family as an ecosystem and acknowledges the tendency of the dysfunctional relationships within it to have a cause and effect in a person’s experience with addiction.
Nevertheless, the objective of family therapy is not to place blame or fan flames, which will only further aggravate the situation. The therapist will not take anyone’s side but will facilitate a safe space for everyone involved to talk about topics that they find difficult to discuss on their own without resorting to arguments or fear of judgment.
Most family counselling sessions will be customized specifically to the requirements of each case. A single session may take anywhere from 50 to 90 minutes. Family therapy can be done together or separately, depending on your therapist and individual preference.
Who Exactly Can Be Considered a Family?
Family therapy is inclusive in nature and is respectful of diversity in whatever shape or form it may present. Adults will have more freedom in deciding who to bring for family counselling. The following are individuals who are welcome to participate in family therapy programs in addiction recovery:
This refers to families who are related by blood or by law and who are living under one roof. This includes spouses and life partners, children, parents, siblings, adoptive families, and foster families.
If the person suffering from addiction is an adult, he or she may choose to go to family counselling with other blood-relative relatives they feel closer to, such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, or cousins.
Elected families can sometimes have more weight when compared to biological ones. Your elected family refers to fictive kin who, despite not being related by blood or law, are considered family. This could be close friends, godparents, and any other people who the client has a strong relationship with.
Benefits of Family Therapy in Addiction Counselling
The inclusion of family therapy in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction is an amazing development, one that has a lot of understated benefits. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Educate the whole family about addiction as a disease, not bad behaviour
- Identifies the family’s strength and redirects it for addiction recovery
- Opens up pathways of communication among members of the family
- Removes the stigma and isolation that someone may feel if they go to addiction counselling alone
- Providing sufficient support to the addicted family member without enabling them
- Addressing negative emotions brought about by the addiction
- Prevents other members of the family from turning to substance abuse and other forms of addiction as a coping mechanism
- Serves as therapy for any mental health issues within the family
- Brings an opportunity for forgiveness and emotional healing
What If Someone in the Family Refuses to Participate?
When broaching the subject of family therapy, there’s the possibility of having a family member who would not be immediately onboard or who would be completely against the idea. In this case, it is imperative to investigate the specific reasons behind the reluctance to participate and respond to it accordingly.
Could it be skepticism about the effectiveness of family counselling? Has their relationship become too strained beyond repair because of addiction? A family counsellor or therapist could arrange to meet individually at first to provide relevant information about addiction and discuss the merits of family therapy in a setting the family member would be comfortable with.
Does this family member feel afraid or uncomfortable to even be in the same room with the person with addiction because of a history of trauma? If yes, then this decision must be respected. One of the primary purposes of family therapy is to provide a safe and supportive space for everyone. Family therapy may not be an option if there is evidence suggesting that the client is an abusive spouse or parent. These factors should be seriously considered and assessed before family therapy is started.
Ultimately, if the family member still does not wish to attend the therapy sessions, they must not be pressured by other relatives or close friends. The success of family therapy for addiction lies in the willingness to participate from all parties.
Finding Family Therapy Near You
At Freedom from Addiction, we know how heartbreaking and difficult it can be for a family to grapple with the impacts of addiction. If you are looking for an addiction centre in Toronto that offers family therapy as a part of addiction counselling, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We have an expert team of therapists at our Aurora addiction treatment facility who can support and guide you through this journey.
Contact us today to find out more information about our services and how family therapy can benefit you and your loved ones.
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