Why Should I Go to Family Therapy if My Loved One Is the One Struggling?

15 Jun, 2023
why should i go to family therapy if my loved one is the one struggling

Sober Life believes that people of all ages can attend family therapy. This is especially true when a family member has issues with substance abuse. It is important for people to go to family therapy for a variety of reasons.

Who Is Affected by Substance Abuse?

Some people believe that the only person affected by substance abuse is the person using the substances. However, other people are affected including family, friends, and other loved ones. These are the tangential casualties of substance use.

For loved ones, substance abuse is often an emotional rollercoaster. When a loved one has a substance abuse issue, there are a variety of side effects that can affect others. These can include:

When these issues are at play, everyone is affected. For people who are in the firing line regarding these issues, it is important to seek help. This is true regardless of whether the individual is seeking help themselves.

How Should Loved Ones React to an Individual With a Substance Use Disorder?

The main thing to remember is that no two people react the same way to a loved one with a substance abuse issue. There is also no specific way to react. Therefore, when a person has a loved one with a substance use disorder (SUD), it is important to look at their reactions, evaluate how they feel, and move forward accordingly.

Reactions run the gamut, including:

  • Sadness
  • Anger
  • Denial
  • Surprise
  • Disappointment

These reactions are all normal. They will often be different when a person experiences a relapse. It is important to remember that these emotions should not be bottled up. Silencing emotions and thoughts can have a greater effect on people than they realize. That is why, regardless of whether an individual is ready to seek help or not, loved ones should be attending family therapy with or without them.

Why Should I Seek Family Therapy?

A family will have its own timing regarding starting some type of counseling. In some cases, these sessions can take place prior to a person entering a program. In other cases, it happens during their loved one’s recovery process. Either way, the therapy process is important for everyone who is included. There are some differences between starting therapy with the individual included and starting it without them.

Starting Family Therapy With the Individual

Some families may find that their loved one is afraid and unsure of what steps they should take to work on their disorder. They may not be ready for a recovery program. Perhaps they are only beginning to consider entering one. When this is the case, the family can go to family therapy together in a safe environment where they can discuss their issues with a counselor. In these sessions, the family will arrive with questions and observations they want to share. It may even be the one place where they can all speak without arguing.

However, it should be noted that even when families fight, which they do, family therapy can provide a forum where they can talk in a supervised environment. People can air their issues in a controlled area and receive honest responses not just from the therapist but from other family members as well. This is valuable.

Family therapy sessions are a chance for people to show that they care about themselves as a group. It shows just how much they are devoted to each other. Participating in therapy shows that they are willing to take part in a healing process rather than abandon their loved ones because they won’t seek help.

Starting Family Therapy Without the Individual

When the individual is deep into their substance abuse, they may be unable or unwilling to go to family therapy sessions. However, this does not mean a family should abandon their own personal journeys. Considering how substance abuse affects loved ones, family therapy can provide a great deal of help. These sessions can help family members understand that their emotions are valid. They may be relieved to feel that their need for support is finally being met. Trained family therapists can help put situations into perspective. They can also show families that they are not at fault for the decisions or problems of the individual.

The main difference between family therapy with the individual involved and sessions without them is that in the first case, they have a chance to respond and interact. In the second, they are being talked about and the family has the entire time to concentrate on their own thoughts and feelings.

Unfortunately, when the second situation happens, there is a lack of dialogue with the individual. However, when this type of situation occurs, it may be inevitable or for the best. The family members may feel that they have been neglected or mistreated to the point that they need space to process things on their own. In some cases, the two parties are not even on speaking terms.

How Can Family Therapy Help Those Around an Individual With Substance Use Disorder?

Sober Life believes that the entire goal of family therapy is to give people an outlet for their emotions. People who go to family therapy are all dealing with the same substance abuse situation. They are attending with a very specific unified purpose. Therefore, people who go to family therapy can benefit greatly from not only emoting in a safe space but finding answers and assistance from therapists and each other.

People often point to addiction as being a personal problem that affects an individual. Sober Life believes that this is a half-truth. For loved ones, the effects of addiction can reverberate for years. That is why family therapy can be so important. When an individual has an addiction, those close to them may feel at loose ends. They may see the issue as their own failing. In some cases, they have extreme anger toward a family member who they see as a selfish person. Family therapy can help put these emotions into words, allow a person a safe space to speak, and bring the family closer. To learn more about family therapy, call Sober Life today at (619) 542-9542.

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