The parents and loved ones of addicts are often unsure of how to help. While there are more resources available today than in the past, support for families is still limited. It’s imperative that friends and family members understand how important their roles are. That’s where family therapy is helpful. It creates time each week for families to come together in a safe, supportive environment to discuss sensitive issues, work through problems and bring the family closer together.
Here are five ways that family therapy can help your family heal.
1. Better Understand the Impact of Addiction
Let’s be honest. Until you were faced with addiction in your family, you probably didn’t spend much time thinking about it. No one intends to be an addict, and no family is prepared to have one. This is why education is crucial.
During family therapy, a therapist will work with your family to better understand addiction, its symptoms and your role in helping with healing. This is also a time to share your experiences as a family, as your loved one needs to know how their actions have affected others.
2. Improve Emotional Health of the Family
While there is no one cause of addiction (and certainly no one to blame), it’s not uncommon for addicts to come from households where things are going on such as financial troubles, divorce or depression. A family therapist will assess each person and gain insight into the family dynamics. If there are issues that need to be addressed, this can be done during therapy. This benefits everyone involved.
3. Identify Codependent Behavior
Codependency is common in the families of addicts. It starts innocently, usually a parent trying to protect their teen. Over time, this behavior turns into enablement. If you don’t break this cycle, it can make it easier for your loved one to return to their bad habits. Family therapy brings these types of relationships to light so that they can be corrected for the better.
4. Work on Communication
Communication is key to every healthy relationship. Unfortunately, communicating with an addict isn’t exactly easy. Family therapy encourages everyone to work on their communication skills. Parents and siblings learn how to stay calm, and addicts are taught how to express themselves. Time outs can also be helpful in times of stress, something that you can practice in the meeting.
5. Discover Fun Ways to Bond
So much of your recent life has been consumed by the addiction, so it’s common to feel disconnected as a family. Family therapy is the start of spending positive time together. As you re-establish your bonds, you will discover new ways to have fun together whether it’s going to the drive-in, participating in a softball league or taking a cooking class.
In early sobriety, it might seem like meetings and counseling take up your family’s time. Each type of therapy has an important role, and family therapy is no exception. By working with a family therapist, your family can grow closer together and stop the cycle of substance abuse.