Family therapy for addiction is a form of psychotherapy that aims to streamline communication and resolve conflict.
Where individual therapy focuses on the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors of the person addicted to alcohol or drugs, family therapy focuses on relationships within the family. The goals of family therapy are to validate the experiences of all family members, bring greater clarity to your relationships, repair any damage to the relationship, and strengthen family bonds.
With SAMHSA data showing that 40 million adults in the United States have substance use disorder and 28 million have alcohol use disorder, addiction is a growing concern. Whether you or a loved one is grappling with addiction, family therapy could be a useful cog in a comprehensive addiction treatment program.
What is Family Therapy for Addiction?
According to SAMHSA’s Treatment Improvement Protocols, family therapy or family counseling includes a variety of interventions reflecting assessments, involvement, and approaches at family level.
Unlike individual therapy, family therapy aims to address and treat the behaviors of your family as a whole. While the family is composed of unique individuals each bringing something different to the dynamic, the family group is the core focus of this form of psychotherapy.
Oftentimes, family therapy is short-term. While it is useful if all family members participate in the counseling process, this is not essential. Regardless of who participates, you will explore family dynamics and interactions through counseling sessions. These sessions can impart the skills you need to improve your family connections, even during stressful times like addiction and recovery.
The therapist will usually spend time with your family members individually, as well as leading group counseling sessions with multiple family members present. This arrangement allows the therapist to examine the overall family dynamic and individual family relationships.
You will find four types of family therapy for addiction. Each of these types of therapy focuses on unique problems and offers specific solutions. These approaches are:
- Bowenian family therapy: Bowenian family therapy can work well if you do not want your family directly involved in your treatment and recovery process. This form of family therapy can be delivered to individuals with a focus on the family unit.
- Systemic therapy: This form of family therapy focuses on unconscious communication and hidden meanings, with the therapist observing and maintaining a neutral approach.
- Structural therapy: Structural family therapy for parents struggling with addiction. This intervention keeps parents in a position of authority, with the therapist adopting a more active involvement in the process.
- Strategic therapy: Through strategic family therapy, all family members will be equipped with tools for growth. The therapist adopts a direct approach.
How could addiction therapy for family help you, then?
Benefits of Family Therapy for Addiction
Engaging with family therapy for addiction could deliver the following general benefits:
- Identifies problem areas within your family
- Imparts skills for dealing with challenging situations
- Improves communication skills
- Sharpens conflict resolution and management skills
- Offers new understanding and insight
- Strengthening your relationships
Research shows that family therapy for substance use disorder also provides these specific benefits:
- Improves treatment retention
- Increases family support for the person with an addiction
- Deepens understanding of addiction and its impact on families
- Raises awareness of warning signs of relapse
- Reduces risk of relapse
- Encourages family strengths
- Improves awareness of what to expect through addiction treatment and recovery
- Helps the family to make positive changes related to the person with an addiction, both through communication and behaviors
- Helps the family to understand how to take responsibility for their well-being
What to Expect During a Family Therapy Addiction Session
In most cases, several family members attend sessions. Family therapy can also be delivered individually, though.
Sessions typically last from 50 to 60 minutes. This is a short-term form of psychotherapy typically requiring 12 sessions.
You can expect to undertake the following during family therapy for addiction sessions:
- Explore family rules, family roles, and behavior patterns contributing to conflict and identify solutions
- Improve the ability of your family to solve problems and productively express thoughts and emotions
- Work out your family’s strengths and weaknesses
You will achieve the above through a variety of family therapy activities for addiction.
Family Therapy Activities
Through family therapy sessions, you will learn new ways of interacting with and relating to your family members.
The therapist will observe and take notes as family dynamics unfold. The therapist may also introduce any of the following approaches:
- CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy)
- Role playing
- Role playing
- Communication techniques
- Giving step-by-step approaches to improving relationships
- Writing letters
- Open emotional expression
- Restructuring of family dynamics
- Holistic care
Among these interventions, it is CBT that is perhaps the most widely beneficial. Through cognitive behavioral therapy sessions, family members will explore the closely interrelated nature of thoughts and behaviors. CBT can help those with addictions to identify what triggers them to use substances. This form of psychotherapy will also equip family members with more robust coping strategies.
Through all of the above techniques, you and your family members can learn to reframe the way you perceive anger, pain, and other volatile emotions. You can also repair relationships unraveled by addiction, moving forward into positivity, recovery, and sober living as a family unit.
Family Therapy at The District Recovery
Whether you need family therapy for alcohol addiction or family therapy for drug addiction, we can help you here at TDRC. We offer outpatient gender-specific rehab for alcohol use disorder, substance use disorder, mental health disorders, and dual diagnoses.
In addition to regular outpatient programs, we also provide IOPs (intensive outpatient programs) or PHPs (partial hospitalization programs). This allows you or your loved one access to the most intensive addiction treatment outside of residential rehab at an affordable price point.
All of our treatment programs draw from the following array of evidence-based therapies:
- Psychotherapy (talk therapies like CBT or DBT)
- MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
- Family therapy
- Counseling (individual and group)
Your treatment team will ensure you leave The District with a solid relapse management plan and aftercare plan in place to maximize your chances of sustained recovery.
Addiction is a family disease and by addressing your family as a whole unit, you can ensure that you or your loved one has a smoother road to recovery. Get started by calling admissions today at 844.287.8506.