The purpose of family therapy is to help members of the family work through challenges and tough times in a way that uncovers the underlying problem in hopes of bringing the family closer together. When loved ones enter rehab for either a substance use disorder, mental health disorder, or both, the family system is often cracked or broken due to the extreme stress tied to the addiction and related behaviors.
A significant component of substance abuse and mental health treatment is involving the family during therapy. Many experts believe that substance use disorders are a family disease, meaning that if one family member struggles with addiction, then the entire family unit is in disequilibrium.
Mental health and substance use disorders can create havoc, stress, and destructive behaviors within the family, resulting in broken relationships and physical, emotional, and mental health problems.
Additionally, underlying stress within the family unit is a known trigger for the development of mental health and substance use disorders; however, the family unit is also an essential aspect of treatment for these mental health disorders and addictions. Studies have shown that with the right training and therapy, family members can play the role of co-therapists, provide a support system, or become advocates and teachers of new skills.
Family behavior therapy (FBT) is an all-inclusive treatment modality used to rebuild the family unit. Addictions and mental health disorders not only hurt an individual, but they also negatively impact the family unit as a whole. Family behavior therapy teaches open communication, healthy boundaries, self-control, stimulus-control, conflict resolution skills, employment-seeking skills, and other essential skills needed to maintain a healthy family unit during recovery. Family members meet with the therapist to discuss emotions, thoughts, and negative underlying issues contributing to the mental health and substance use disorders.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse highlights the many benefits of family involvement in recovery, including:
Family members, including parents and siblings, play a significant role in mental and emotional development during treatment. Depending on the severity of the mental health disorder, different therapy levels can ensue; however, a general intake or assessment should be performed at the beginning of treatment.
During this initial assessment, family members need to give the therapist insight on their son or daughter.
Most adolescents/teenagers live with their parents and siblings, and therefore these family members are often in the trenches with their beloved teenager/adolescent. They see the battles, emotional rollercoasters, the underlying triggers and therefore, can offer a lot of information to the therapist about what specifically their son or daughter is going through.
They are “experts” in their own unique way.
Additionally, family members can be the underlying triggers themselves. Studies have shown that divorce, emotional trauma, and control issues can lead to mental health disorders in adolescents/teenagers. Additionally, codependence can lead to mental health disorders. If a parent or sibling is experiencing a mental health disorder or a substance abuse disorder, this can strongly influence the entire family to develop unhealthy behaviors and even a mental health disorder.
Family therapy in the treatment of mental health disorders has been deemed successful. Family members are not only crucial during the initial assessment phase but are as equally important in the treatment and recovery phase as well. Family members need to learn about positive reinforcement approaches, healthy coping skills, strategies to prevent underlying stressors in the family dynamic, and skills to promote good behavior and academic performance. Recovery takes time, patience, and a positive family dynamic during this phase is essential for a successful recovery.
Co-occurring disorders, formerly referred to as dual diagnosis, are two or more disorders that occur simultaneously. Substance use disorders such as heroin or alcohol addiction can occur with depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Studies have shown that adolescents with major depressive disorder are twice as likely to develop a substance use disorder. Although it is difficult to determine which disorder presented first, the goal of treatment is to treat each individual disorder simultaneously. If one disorder is left undiagnosed or untreated, it can often result in relapse. Parents and siblings can also play a crucial role in the assessment, treatment and recovery process for co-occurring disorders
AKUA Mind and Body is a full-service treatment program that offers a wide range of “east meets west” treatment modalities for many different populations struggling with codependence disorder and other mental health and substance use disorders. AKUA Mind & Body treats co-occurring disorders and works diligently with each client and their family to ensure that treatment is specifically tailored to their needs, and not just their disorder.