Substance Abuse Disorders Do Not Develop In Isolation
- Family member interactions: aggravate the problem or substantially assist in resolving it.
- Substance abuse strongly influenced by communication with family members and family members’ behaviors.
- Family members should not be involved if they are violent, active users and/or deny the client’s use is a problem.
- Family involvement is critical when the family is inadvertently reinforcing or supporting the problem.
- It is also extremely important when a family member has a different agenda from the rest of the family.
- When the whole family is involved changes are faster and easier to maintain.
- Client then gains a built-in support system.
Appropriate Brief Family Therapy
- Counselors can learn to work with families, especially if they do not hold the family responsible for the substance abuse.
- Making real progress over a long period of time instead of brief is challenging because the family may try to incorporate the therapist into the family system routinely seeking direction in crisis.
- Boundaries must be addressed. When therapy is brief boundaries are more clear.
Family Therapy Offers An Opportunity To:
- Focus on the expectation of change within the family.
- Test new patterns of behavior.
- Teach how a family system works, and how the family supports symptoms and maintains needed roles.
- Elicit the strengths of every family member.
- Explore the meaning of substance abuse within the family.
- Open-ended questions to clarify nature of the problem are asked of each family member.
- Therapist then educates family on what is needed for treatment to be successful as well as psychoeducation on the nature of substance abuse. T
- Therapist then provides feedback on what was said, demonstrating each family’s individual goals.
- Begin prioritizing goal setting and may have the family develop a treatment contract.
- No more than twice per week, 1-2 hour sessions, 6-10 weeks.
For more information, see SAMHSA TIP 34, Chapter 8
By Christina Cornejo-Felix, RSIII & Stacey Tisler, MSW