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Family therapy at Centres for Health and Healing

At Centres for Health and Healing, we firmly believe that mental health issues, including behavioural and substance addictions, not only affect the individuals experiencing them but significantly impact their family members.

In our experience, family involvement is vital to effective addiction treatment, ongoing support, and long-lasting recovery.

Here, we will explain what family support is in addiction recovery (including other types of mental illness), how it can benefit family members, and when to seek treatment for a mental health condition.

Speak to a Centre for Health and Healing specialist today if you have concerns about your mental health (or someone you know).

The importance of family involvement

Studies have shown that people experience significantly better treatment outcomes when family and close friends are involved in recovery.

Our family therapy sessions are held weekly, with family visit days are Sundays.

In addition, clients and families gain significant value from our clinical team’s experience in a therapeutic environment.

Education

Education on mental health disorders and addiction is a fundamental goal of our family therapy work.

Families are invited to participate in these sessions, when appropriate, either in person or by video conferencing.

All sessions are treated with complete discretion and are only incorporated with our client’s consent when they feel ready.

Our specialist family therapist facilitates all sessions. This treatment helps families understand what their loved one is experiencing and how they might help. 

These sessions also encourage family members to ask questions, learn how they can better support their loved one, and help realign family dynamics that may have become strained or damaged due to substance abuse.

What is family support?

Family support is a form of group therapy designed to help family members better understand, support one another, and work through challenging situations together.

This type of treatment adopts an evidence-based approach. Family therapists deliver family support sessions which can be used as a primary treatment method or as a complementary therapy alongside other therapies.

What’ family’ means in family support groups.

In family therapy, ‘family’ is defined as anyone who plays a long-term supportive role in a person’s life, which can include the following:

  • Parents
  • Partners
  • Siblings
  • Friends
  • Children
  • Cousins
  • Caregivers (and other professionals).

Collective healing

Healthy’ family’ relationships are considered essential for good mental health.

This type of therapy is an ideal way to help family members address specific issues affecting the health and functioning of their family unit. 

In addition, this treatment can help families through difficult periods, significant transitions, and mental health or behavioural problems in individual family members.

By providing professional support in a safe space, family therapy enables families to:

  • Talk and listen to each other more effectively 
  • Get to the root cause(s) of their problems
  • Express and explore complex thoughts and emotions
  • Understand the impact of their words and actions on each other
  • Build a better understanding of each person’s beliefs, values, experiences, behaviours, hopes, and needs
  • Understand risk factors for mental health disorders and substance use and learn strategies to prevent them
  • Stop blaming each other and begin working cooperatively to identify problems and find solutions for them
  • Identify family strengths and build on them to make positive, lasting changes in their relationships and lives
  • Create a better functioning home environment while working to restore balance.

Building knowledge

Family therapy has various benefits, particularly regarding each person’s overall health within a family’s ecosystem.

Typically, family therapy can provide valuable education and essential skills required for healthy family functioning, including conflict resolution, communication, and problem-solving.

Learning and developing these skills increases the probability of success in overcoming future family challenges together.

Treatment approaches used in family therapy

Family therapy typically uses a variety of techniques, including:

The therapist will use the most effective approach to address each family’s challenges and unique dynamics.

What type of mental health conditions does family therapy treat?

Studies show that family therapy can be used effectively with children, young people, and adults of all ages and backgrounds and is highly beneficial in the treatment of a wide range of mental illnesses, including:

Families who come to therapy with an honest, open, and willing mindset for change will benefit the most from this evidence-based approach.

Ultimately, the goal of family therapy is always the same; to bring about positive change and lasting recovery for all family members.

Are there different types of family therapy?

Family therapy can be delivered in various ways, depending on the individual and the treatment type (s). For example, family therapy may be provided through:

  • Group sessions with clients and their loved ones
  • Private family sessions involving a therapist and one or more family members
  • Individual counselling for family members, including spouses and children of those in recovery
  • Intensive family education sessions (including family weekends or activities)
  • 12-Step meetings for families of addicts, such as Al-Anon and Alateen.

Various treatment approaches can be used in family therapy, including:

Structural

A structural approach to therapy focuses on identifying and transforming the structural dynamics of a family – this is achieved by exploring deeply embedded patterns, relationships, and behaviours within the family system.

In addition, any issues or symptoms people might be experiencing are viewed in terms of family interaction patterns (with a strong focus on the entire family and how it’s organised).

Within this treatment modality, there is a strong emphasis on the following factors:

  • Strengthening relationships
  • Modifying behaviours
  • Improving interactions between family members
  • Setting appropriate boundaries

The goal of structural family therapy is for families to create a healthy balance, effective communication, and positive interaction between all members.

Systemic

Based on ‘family systems theory,’ systemic therapy views the family as a holistic unit and considers the entire family’s emotional tone, feelings, and attitudes.

The systemic approach is based on the understanding that if one family member has a problem, it influences the entire family dynamics and not just the impacted individual (and vice versa). 

Attention is focused on the varying dynamics within each family system instead of individual issues and personal reflection. So, there is no direct identification of a single root cause for any problem.

How this process works is the whole family attends therapy together as a shared experience, with the therapist acting as a facilitator for positive, lasting change.

Psychoeducational

The psychoeducational approach to family therapy provides education, information, and support to those seeking (or receiving) mental health treatment, along with family members, caregivers, and friends. 

The core belief of this treatment model is that with sufficient information about the nature of a mental health disorder and practical strategies for coping effectively, a family can significantly reduce conflict and the likelihood of relapse after treatment.

In addition, the psychoeducational model typically has four primary goals:

  • To provide helpful information to understand a mental health disorder better
  • To explain and support treatments and medication to clients and families
  • To offer training and support in self-care and provide awareness around coping skills
  • To provide a safe space for people to release overwhelming emotions.

Psychoeducational family therapy is a strongly supported, evidence-based approach to treating the following mental health conditions:

Psychoeducation can be delivered in sessions with a trained professional or through online forums.

Behavioural

The behavioural approach uses cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) principles to identify destructive or maladaptive thought patterns and behaviours within a family system.

In therapy, family members learn how to replace any unhelpful patterns and behaviours with positive, healthy alternatives to improve their relationships within the family dynamic and beyond.

All types of family therapy are designed to help families rebuild trust and respect and create positive interactions through improved understanding and communication.

In addition, families are taught how to manage conflict resolution by using healthy coping strategies, which eventually re-enhances a sense of connection with one another.

Studies repeatedly show that families attending therapy together report better life outcomes than those who do not.

What are the benefits of family therapy?

Family therapy benefits all family members regardless of age, background, and experience.

When stressful situations put a strain on relationships, this often causes conflict and disharmony within a family unit.

Challenging experiences such as divorce, the death of a loved one, financial difficulties, and significant transitions are just some of the events that can disrupt the happy balance within a family.

Moreover, trauma and dysfunction often lead people to make bad choices. 

So, when families do not feel safe enough to air their feelings with each other, this may cause individuals to engage in destructive coping mechanisms such as drugs or alcohol.

Fortunately, family therapy is highly effective when used in a treatment setting and can successfully treat a range of mental health conditions that frequently impact family units, such as:

  • Anxiety disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance abuse and other addictions.

Additional benefits of family therapy

Research shows that with proper guidance and support from a trained therapist (in a safe and confidential setting) – there are numerous benefits to family therapy, such as:

  • Learning about specific mental health disorders, including addiction, how treatment works and what to expect after treatment
  • Enabling and improving communication between family members, including healthier expressions of difficult emotions
  • Understanding how individual actions impact the entire family 
  • Identifying and alleviating sources of anger, fear, and stress that may be disrupting a family’s functioning
  • Having a better understanding of each other’s experiences and perspectives and working on acceptance and forgiveness
  • Developing a more profound sense of empathy, honesty, and trust 
  • Setting (and maintaining) healthy, clear boundaries (which can prevent codependency)
  • Identifying and improving family dynamics 
  • Learning healthy conflict-resolution skills
  • Building on family strengths to develop a supportive family environment that cultivates strengthened bonds
  • Reintroducing (and supporting) family members who have been isolated.

Is family therapy effective?

Studies show that family therapy helps family members, caregivers, and friends better understand and support each other.

In addition, this treatment aims to significantly reduce family conflict and provide valuable skills and tools that families can use during therapy sessions and beyond.

In our experience, being involved in a loved one’s recovery not only increases their chances of long-term success and healing, but it can also improve family functioning and the overall mental health of each individual.

Now is the time to begin your family’s journey to health and wellness.

If you think family therapy might benefit you and your family, please get in touch with us today to learn more about our family program.

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