Addiction almost never affects a single individual alone. Families, friends, spouses, and partners can all experience challenges and hardships when their loved one is living with a substance use disorder. And while addiction can often lead to serious damage in these relationships, they can also be a lifeline out of addiction.
Family therapy recognizes the ripple effect that substance use disorders can create – and can start the process of healing these relationships and building a stable source of support for addiction recovery.
What is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is a therapeutic style that brings together the friends, family members, and loved ones of a person living with addiction. The goal of family therapy is to bring family members into the recovery process, foster healthier patterns of communication, and create a stable system of support to promote sobriety in the future.
Family therapy can be an incredibly effective tool in the treatment of substance use disorders. And not only does it help the person who is struggling with their addictive behavior, but it can improve the quality of life and communication skills of their loved ones, as well.
The Basis of Family Therapy
Of all the therapeutic interventions that are used in the treatment of addiction, family therapy is unique. Rather than focusing on individual factors that could influence substance use – such as co-occurring mental health issues, craving, or coping skills – family therapy instead focuses on how the family unit can influence substance use and overall mental health.
Put plainly, when family members change the way they think about substance use, the family system as a whole changes as a result. This can dramatically increase the likelihood of the substance user achieving a lasting recovery and improve the mental health of the entire family.
Experienced family therapists use several core strategies to bring about these goals:
- Educating family members about the nature of substance use disorders
- Teaching family members what to expect during substance use treatment
- Demonstrating the importance of family member support for their loved one’s during treatment
- Encouraging family members to build their own support networks and self-care strategies
- Teaching communication skills and strategies to help family units understand each other better
With these skills, families are not only in a better position to help their loved ones on their journey towards recovery – but have the tools for a healthier family life as a whole.
Treating addiction is about much more than mere abstinence – and family therapy in addiction treatment is about more than substance use alone. Family therapy can help heal damaged family relationships, teach strategies for self-care, and improve the quality of life at home for every family member.
Types of Family Therapy
Just as there are several types of therapy for the treatment of substance use disorders, several different types of family therapy orientations exist. Some of the most common types of family therapy include:
- Internal Systems Family Therapy. This approach to therapy focuses on the idea that individuals have different roles or sub-personalities that influence family dynamics, and seeks to balance these internal parts to improve family functioning as a whole.
- Structural Family Therapy. Therapists trained in structural family therapy emphasize how family systems are organized and create interventions to change these structures and strengthen them. For example, this could involve recognizing and changing power dynamics, helping build strong boundaries within family units, or changing family hierarchies to improve quality of life.
- Strategic Family Therapy. A strategic family therapist focuses on identifying specific problems within family units, then intervening to bring about positive change. This targeted approach to family therapy can quickly resolve specific challenges and start families on the path to holistic recovery.
At TN Detox Center, our family therapists may use any of these evidence-based family therapy intervention styles, depending on the unique needs of each family unit and what the person recovering from a substance use disorder needs in terms of family support.
Family Therapy in Addiction Treatment
Family therapy is a critical element to any evidence-based substance use treatment program. People entering recovery are often in dire need of emotional support and accountability – and the family who loves them is often in the best position to create that foundation.
Of course, family therapy isn’t always easy. Sometimes the damages of addiction extend into personal relationships, and many family members can feel resentment, a lack of trust, or compassion fatigue. Family therapy can start the path to healing these bonds, opening a space for families to openly discuss their issues with a trained mental health professional who can help them accomplish their goals.
The evidence for the effectiveness of family therapy in addiction treatment is overwhelming. Research from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows that family therapy can have benefits such as:
- Better treatment retention
- Building on pre-existing strengths in the family unit
- Helping families to address common challenges in communication or behavior
- Improved understanding about addiction, recovery, and what to expect during treatment
- Reduced risk of relapse
- Guiding family members towards taking their own steps towards mental health and wellbeing
As an evidence-based treatment center, we consider these benefits to be worth the investment – both for our clients, and for their loved ones. As such, family therapy plays an important role in our comprehensive addiction treatment program and can play an important part in you or your loved one’s recovery.
Start Treatment at TN Detox Center
At TN Detox Center, we understand how problems with substance use can often lead to a number of challenges throughout your life. Recovery from addiction is about much more than putting down the drink or drug – it’s about building a life worth living in recovery. With targeted approaches to family therapy, a commitment to treating co-occurring mental health challenges, medical detoxification services, and drug and alcohol rehab programs, everything you need to start that life is waiting for you at TN Detox Center in Nashville.
When you’re ready to begin, reach out to our team by calling 615-488-5311 or by filling out our confidential online contact form for a no-obligation consultation. You can recover from addiction, and we’ll be there to support you every step of the way.