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Family Therapy


Drug addiction is treated through a combination of detox and rehab, with detox enabling the cessation of drug use and rehab addressing the psychological aspects of addiction. Family therapy is a branch of psychotherapy and an important part of many rehab regimes. Also known as marriage and family therapy, family systems therapy, and family counseling among other names, this type of therapy analyzes family interactions with a view to changing problematic behavior patterns. Family therapy is available throughout Hawaii and across the United States, both from commercial rehab centers and on an aftercare basis. If you know anyone in Hawaii who could benefit from access to family therapy, it is important to contact a specialized facility as soon as possible.

What is family therapy?

Family therapy is a form of psychotherapy often used to treat substance use and mental health disorders. By analyzing psychological health in terms of family relationships, this form of therapy attempts to change unhealthy behavior patterns from the inside-out. While some family therapy systems work with entire family groups, other programs work through family issues with the affected person alone. While family therapy can be applied by itself in certain situations, it is mostly used in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational therapy, and others forms of psychotherapy. Family therapy typically involves traditional family groups, with modern implementations also including close friendship and community groups. Family therapy is available on a residential or outpatient basis, with some programs also administered after rehab has been completed.

Typical Elements of Family Therapy

Family therapy involves a series of group counseling sessions between a therapist and at least two other people. While the drug addict is central to the treatment process, at least one other significant person needs to be involved. During a typical session, the therapist involved will analyze existing family relationships and engage family members in applying new behavioral strategies. Part of this process involves recognizing problematic family relationships, including co-dependent relationships and other unhealthy family roles. Therapy systems may also include an element of contingency management, with the patient given rewards when they have accomplished certain goals. Most family therapy systems are administered for a period of weeks or months, and the operational philosophy of each treatment center influences the overall structure.

Family Therapy Techniques

Family therapy uses a range of counseling and psychotherapeutic techniques, including structural therapy, strategic therapy, narrative therapy, transgenerational therapy, and systematic therapy. During a typical session, of which there are normally between five and twenty, therapists will analyze relational dynamics in an attempt to change problematic behavior patterns. Family therapists are interested more in the dynamics existing between people rather than the situation within particular individuals. While therapists are generally more interested in solving practical problems that finding an exact cause to these problems, linear and circular causation are both recognized.

Family Roles

The people close to drug addicts often fulfill particular roles within the family unit, and these co-dependent roles do not help the addict to make real lifestyle changes. These roles are listed in the following:

  • The Addict: The addicted family member is at the center of the issue.
  • The Caretaker: A family member who openly cares for the addict, but who also enables their substance abuse habit by ignoring it or denying that it exists.
  • The Hero: A family member who ignores the addict’s drug or alcohol abuse problem in an attempt to maintain a positive and clean image of the family to the outside world.
  • The Scapegoat: A family member who participates in misbehavior in order to draw attention away from the substance abuse problems.
  • The Lost Child: A family member who attempts to avoid confrontation by not mentioning the addict’s problems or causing further problems
  • The Mascot: A family member who openly pokes fun at the addict and their other relatives. Their actions may be taken as offensive, and can cause even greater emotional strain within the family.

If your loved one suffers from addiction, contact an addiction specialist today to learn more about the benefits of family therapy.