Family therapy follows the same guidelines as other forms of psychotherapy. Instead of one individual attending therapy, family therapy for addiction involves the whole family. For example, in individual therapy, the person struggling with addiction will focus on their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions. Family therapy encourages each family member to focus and understand their respective feelings and experiences.
The goal of family therapy is to repair relationships between family members and ultimately foster closeness. Therapists utilize proven techniques to assist in bringing clarity to all relationships within the family.
How Does Family Therapy Work?
In family therapy for addiction, the therapist will investigate how substance use has altered family interactions. Together, the family and therapist will develop new skills to bring clarity and healing to the family. The four following segments are key components in the family therapy for addiction model.
Family engagement practices take place at the beginning phase of treatment. The goals and investments set during family engagement are revisited throughout therapy. The intentions of family engagement are foundational. The therapist will utilize different strategies to show the value of engaging in therapy.
For family treatment to be most beneficial, each family member should engage in therapy. Parents and teens sometimes feel reluctant to engage in therapy, often not seeing the value of it. Family therapists create an environment where each individual can feel comfortable in examining their positive and negative emotions.
Family therapists use relational reframing to move away from individual blaming and toward understanding and problem-solving. This element of family therapy removes irrational attributions and descriptions for family member’s specific behaviors. Relational reframing allows family members to be more open, which often requires their relationship to be reframed.
Family Behavior Change
The third main aspect of family therapy for addiction, family behavior change, seeks to make tangible family behavior changes. At this point, family members have a better understanding of substance use and the role it plays in each of their relationships. These sessions aim to help each individual learn new skills and behaviors that will allow for a better family relationship.
Successful family behavior change involves learning techniques to promote better communication skills, boundary setting, effective emotional expression, enforcing limits, and more.
Family restructuring is the last element because it is the most difficult. It mainly takes time and participation from each family member. The basic goal of family restructuring is to shift the family’s unhealthy foundational aspects into a positive system. This process commonly involves altering family rules, beliefs, and premises.
For example, some families do not promote an environment where members can feel comfortable expressing themselves. A family therapist will target these types of unhealthy premises and help restructure them into healthy family habits.