Family Therapy

The damage that can be done by addiction affects everyone around an addicted individual. From codependency, enabling behaviors, and the pain of watching a loved one struggle, addiction is harmful. If the disease of addiction has touched your family, family therapy might be a good choice during the recovery process.

What Is Family Therapy?

Family therapy, also known as family counseling or systemic therapy, is a specialized form of psychotherapy that focuses on improving communication and resolving conflicts within a family unit. Instead of concentrating solely on the individual, family therapy views problems and solutions in the context of the family system. This therapeutic approach recognizes that an individual’s psychological well-being is intricately connected to the dynamics and interactions within their family.

Family therapy operates on the premise that family relationships significantly impact an individual’s mental health and behavior. A trained therapist facilitates sessions with family members, guiding discussions and activities to explore patterns of communication, roles, and behaviors within the family. The goal is to identify and address dysfunctional dynamics, enhance understanding, and promote positive change.

Why Is Family Therapy Important in Addiction Recovery?

Family involvement and family therapy play crucial roles in addiction recovery, offering a comprehensive approach that recognizes the profound impact of addiction on individuals and their loved ones. Addiction is a complex and pervasive problem that not only affects the individual struggling with substance abuse but also deeply influences the dynamics within the family unit.

Family involvement is important because it fosters a supportive environment that can enhance the individual’s motivation for recovery. When family members actively participate in the recovery process, it sends a powerful message of love, understanding, and commitment. This support can significantly contribute to the individual’s sense of belonging and self-worth, key elements in breaking the cycle of addiction.

Addiction often strains relationships, leading to broken trust, communication breakdowns, and emotional distance. Family therapy provides a structured space for open and honest communication, allowing family members to address underlying issues that may have contributed to or resulted from the addiction. By involving the family in therapy sessions, a more comprehensive understanding of the root causes of addiction can be achieved, paving the way for effective and lasting recovery.

Educating Family Members

Family therapy also educates family members about addiction, helping them understand the challenges their loved one faces. This education reduces stigma and fosters empathy, enabling family members to offer more meaningful support. Additionally, family therapy equips families with coping mechanisms and communication skills to navigate the complexities of addiction and its aftermath.

By providing education, family members gain insight into the biological, psychological, and social factors that contribute to addiction. Understanding that addiction is not solely a matter of choice but involves changes in the brain’s structure and function helps combat blame and judgment. This shift in perspective is vital for fostering empathy and compassion toward the individual in recovery.

Furthermore, addiction education equips family members with realistic expectations about the recovery process. It clarifies that recovery is a lifelong journey with its ups and downs, emphasizing the need for patience and ongoing support. Understanding the potential triggers, challenges, and relapse risks empowers family members to be active participants in the recovery process.

Family Therapy at Athens Area Commencement Center

At Athens Area Commencement Center, we believe that addiction is a family disease. It doesn’t just affect the addicted person; it impacts everyone who cares about them. For that reason, healing has to happen on more than an individual scale. 

Additionally, recovering from addiction takes a strong support network. People in recovery have a better chance of succeeding and sticking with the program when they have friends and family members helping them along. This is because support networks help keep individuals accountable while also giving them emotional and mental relief when they need it. 

We have a couple of ways of incorporating family members into the addiction recovery process at Athens Area Commencement Center. Family group nights are on Mondays from 5 to 8 PM. During this time, our clients invite a person from their support network to join them in a group therapy session. This can be a family member, a friend, or a fellow Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) member/sponsor. Guests are invited to listen and/or talk during the session. The most important thing is their physical presence alongside their loved one, which shows care and support for their recovery journey. 

It’s also beneficial for our clients to participate in family therapy in a non-group setting. Usually, at least once in a six-week program, a client and their family will sit down with a counselor to have a private session. This can be extremely healing and help clear the air between clients and their loved ones. 

It's Not Always Easy

The process of healing is almost never easy, and addiction recovery is no exception. Family therapy can be a difficult process, emotionally and psychologically. As a family member of an addicted person, you may feel anger towards them for their substance use and the way they’ve behaved. This is normal and valid. Just because they’re in a program doesn’t mean you have to stop being mad at them. However, they still need you to show up for them, even if you show up mad. 

Family therapy exists because we acknowledge that there are issues within family units that have been touched by addiction. It’s okay, and even good, to bring those issues to the table honestly. This is the place to express your feelings, even if they’re negative. Your family member needs to face the way they’ve affected people, even if it’s painful.

If you or someone you love has been affected by addiction, family therapy can be a healthy step towards healing for everyone. To learn more, call Athens Area Commencement Center at (706) 546-7355.