Can family therapy help and what is it designed to accomplish? As a structured form of psychotherapy, family therapy (or family-based intervention) aims at reducing stress and relational conflicts in the home environment by improving interactions between family members. For people recovering from substance addiction, family therapy can be an important component of relapse prevention.
Because family members’ involvement can be conducive to a loved one’s recovery, health professionals should try to engage the family in family therapy working towards beneficial outcomes. Family therapy can also teach family members relationship skills that help the recovering individual.
The Family as a Behavioral System
Family therapy addresses problems as systems or patterns that can be identified and adjusted. Rather than focusing on one person’s history and role in the problem, a therapist may examine the strengths of a family system as an entirety. For this reason, family therapy is also known as “strengths-based treatment.”
Individuals may thrive in a family system that promotes the growth and well-being of each family member. If one person struggles with issues such as substance addiction, other family members can help and support. However, even the most closely-knit families have problems that often involve communication, boundaries, roles, and responsibilities. A health professional may intervene to provide a perspective so family members are aware of their problems.
Goals of Family Therapy
Family therapy sessions led by a trained therapist can help family members understand the dynamics of their interactions, develop healthy boundaries, improve communication, and promote empathy and mutual understanding. The eventual goal is to reduce stress and relational conflicts within the family.
There are many reasons why families may seek this kind of group therapy. For instance, if a teenager is having problems with an eating disorder or substance addiction, parents might want a professional interventionist to work with the entire family to help design the best treatment plan for the teen’s recovery.
When a major trauma or significant change has impacted an entire family, such as a natural disaster or the loss of a loved one, family therapy may help with relieving some post-traumatic distress and improve communication.
When recovering individuals live in homes with domestic violence, divorce, or parental conflict, these instances can add to the stress and then increase the risk of relapse. Family therapy can help create a recovery-supportive home environment.
Different Family Therapy Approaches
There are different types of family therapy conducted by a trained counselor or health professional. For example, structural family therapy addresses emotional and behavioral concerns among adolescents and teens that are often connected to dysfunctional family structures.
The focus of treatment is understanding boundaries and subsystems within a family so that communication and interactions can become healthier.
Brief strategic family therapy helps restructure family interactions by strengthening positive patterns and gradually making adaptations so that a family member in crisis can be better supported. The therapist may assign homework to assess and adjust the ways that family members communicate and offer support.
Throughout the different approaches, the family therapist always integrates psychoeducation about how interactions within the family may lead to certain mental health conditions.
Educating a family on these patterns can improve the way the entire family system functions. When family members have a shared understanding of common mental health issues, they are in a better place to support each other.
Managing Expectations From a Family Therapy Session
The therapist may explore and probe how family members interact to assess and identify patterns of behavior within the family system. Some questions may touch on some sensitive areas of the family’s life, including family history, roles, parenting approaches, or coping skills in times of crisis. Once the therapist is chosen, each family member must offer trust by opening up to this health professional.
The therapist may discuss the issues that brought the family members to therapy during the initial sessions. Each person will be given the opportunity to talk about the main problems. These family intervention sessions may cover a wide range of issues, including medication use, marriage and pregnancy, job security, and mental health issues. It is important to know that a therapist’s cause-and-effect analysis is not allocating blame to one or more family members.
Family members should try not to communicate with the therapist outside the therapy sessions. Therapists may refrain from such encounters and suggest discussing these issues openly during sessions while other family members are also present.
Whether or not a therapist has a good or poor opinion of your behavior is not the focus of family therapy. Family members should not try to influence the therapist, as the purpose of family therapy sessions is designed to help open communication among family members.
A family-based intervention led by trained health professionals can be a game-changer. Family therapy functions to help family members understand the dynamics of their interactions, develop healthy boundaries, improve communication, and promote empathy and mutual understanding. The eventual goal is to reduce stress and relational conflicts within the family. This approach may serve many needs, including teen addiction or a family member’s mental health issues after traumatic events that impact a family system. Therapists patiently and compassionately walk alongside family members while applying proven methods of treatment for the family system. At Casa Recovery, families can find professional help from experienced mental health experts. The treatment team is highly experienced in addressing a wide range of emotional and mental health needs. Each client’s treatment team will work with them to provide customized efficient and effective treatment methods that have been developed and applied in clinical settings. Call today at (888) 928-2272.