When people enter treatment for substance abuse, mental health disorders and other issues, it’s not just the client who needs help. Families and loved ones must also recover from the impact these conditions have had on their lives. Family therapy can be the first step in the healing process for loved ones.
What Is Family Therapy?
Guided by a family therapist or family psychologist, the goals of family therapy are to:
- Improve communication between loved ones
- Address difficult topics with the guidance of a mental health professional
- Strengthen relationships
- Help family members learn how to best support each other
A family psychologist integrates several different therapeutic techniques with an emphasis on the relationships among behavior, cognition, affect (emotion) and environmental input. Approaches may include functional family therapy, multisystemic therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, brief strategic family therapy, integrative couples therapy, emotionally focused couples therapy, systemic couples therapy, and behavioral couples therapy.
Cognitive behavioral approaches used in family counseling are based on the concept that self-destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse, can be reinforced through the interaction of family members. One of the goals is to change these interactions and target behaviors that trigger substance abuse and other destructive behaviors.
How Family Therapy Helps
Family counseling focuses on using the strengths of the family or couple to bring about positive changes to the family system. Often change in one part of the system (the family and/or the client) brings about change in other parts.
A family psychologist works with clients and their loved ones to address problems in their relationship and help them regain intimacy and trust. Family therapy provides a safe and nurturing space for open, honest dialogue and can begin resolving sensitive or long-term problems.
By regularly participating in family counseling, loved ones can improve their communication, their capacity for intimacy, and their ability to develop new lifestyles that don’t involve enabling, codependency and other unhealthy patterns.
Why Family Therapy Is Important
When one part of the family system is in pain, damaged, or trying to overcome addiction, mental health disorders or other issues, all other parts of the family are affected. It’s important that family is involved in treatment so that they can repair relationships and also learn about the disease of addiction or other conditions. Without family counseling and addiction/mental health education, the client may have a higher risk of relapse.
To learn more about Family Therapy, call 17135283709