Addiction does not emerge fully formed one day in a person’s life. There are many underlying influences and risk factors that play a role in the development of an addiction. Early family dynamics often set the stage for later addictions, and current family interactions can perpetuate or exacerbate the problem. They can also be a force for healing and resolution. A family therapy program in an addiction therapy setting is a proven modality that has a profound and lasting positive impact on addiction recovery when used alongside other therapies. One of the ways family therapy works is by improving communication.
To learn more about the family therapy program and family therapy activities at Clearhaven Recovery, reach out to us today. We look forward to answering your questions. Our number is 833.970.2054, or you can complete our easy online form.
Family Therapy in Rehab
Substance abuse is often influenced by the behaviors of family members and the communication style present within a family. Co-dependence and unconsciously enabling behaviors can do lots of damage, but family therapy can help you work through these issues.
In certain cases, family involvement in addiction therapy is not recommended. For example, family therapy may not be the best strategy if others in the family are also addicted or if there is evidence of violence or abuse. Other contraindications are if family members are in denial about the issues or are too angry to objectively understand that the family situation may play a role.
However, in most cases, the family’s involvement allows for greater healing and can create faster and more lasting change. When the person in recovery returns home after discharge, the family is much better positioned to be a strong and effective support system.
Tips for Positive Communication Between Family Members
When a family learns to recognize unhealthy communication styles and practice effective communication instead, shifts in dynamics and the recovery process can occur quickly. Ways to adjust your communication style includes:
- Make a habit of affirmative statements – These include “I have your back,” and “You can do this.”
- Practice listening skills – Are you listening or planning what to say next?
- Realize and respect the fact that an addicted family member is a unique person who is not you – Meet them where they are and as they are.
- Minimize tension – Carefully time more serious discussions.
- Be vulnerable – Explain how you feel, too, in addition to hearing what they trustingly share.
Communication Activities for Family Therapy
Skill-building games and activities can be very helpful and often create an atmosphere of willingness and engagement. Many family therapy activities that encourage communication can also be done at home. A few examples include:
- Definition game – Create note cards with a relationship-focused word on each, such as love, disappointment, understanding, and respect. Go through the deck, pulling one card at a time. Each family member takes turns defining the word. You may be surprised to hear how different people define words you thought were universally understood.
- Art as communication – The family members individually create a piece of artwork to convey how they see their role in the family. The discussions that arise after sharing the artwork are powerful in creating understanding and empathy and enabling further conversations about family dynamics.
- How Would You React? – Learn how your family members would react in certain challenging situations. Make a list of scenarios, such as, “What would you do if someone slipped into a parking space you were waiting for?” or “How would you react if someone you trust was telling lies about you?” This exercise forces everyone to look at their own and others’ triggers, reactions, and personal style while encouraging conversation about aggression vs. assertiveness or fear vs. caution.
- Silent communication – Non-verbal cues are almost as important as the words we speak. Take turns using facial expressions, gestures, and eloquent eyes to communicate a message to people in your family, no words allowed. This activity improves non-verbal communication and helps family members listen with more than their ears.
Family Therapy at Clearhaven Recovery
Family therapy is a pillar of our addiction recovery program at Clearhaven Recovery. We understand the vital role family dynamics play in addiction and recovery and that good communication is key.
If you are suffering from a substance use disorder or are a family member of someone struggling with addiction, reach out to us today to learn more about how your family can participate in the recovery process. Call us at 833.970.2054 or complete our online form.