Michael’s House staff is committed to provide patients with a variety of tools, experiences and knowledge related to substance abuse and mental health recovery. Providing a three-day intensive family program is one way for families, partners and loved ones to share in this experience. This program enables families and supportive others to begin or continue in the healing process through validation, education, and support.Research suggests a need for family and supportive others’ involvement in treatment for the following reasons:
- Patients are more likely to have long-term sobriety when family members participate and understand the important changes in the recovery process.
- Often family members, partners and loved ones are impacted by the destructive cycle of chemical dependency and other disorders such as depression or anxiety. Feelings of hurt, anger, confusion, deceit, frustration and betrayal are a few emotions that family members frequently experience. The family program provides a safe space to access these feelings with a focus on moving toward emotional growth and healing.
- Prior to a patient entering treatment, the family’s focus has centered on the individual who has been drinking, using or struggling with co-occurring disorders. Often the family system was imbalanced due to the extensive energy placed on this individual. In family recovery, there is a shift toward self-care and away from the often debilitating preoccupation with the recovering person.
- Once family members, partners and loved ones have gained tools for self-care, they are often able to shift their focus from their loved one with the co-occurring disorders to their own lives. This is accomplished by learning to create healthy boundaries and supportive relationships.
Family Program Topic AreasPsycho-education and skill building tools are provided in the following areas:
- Better understanding of the experience of the chemically dependent or dually diagnosed individual.
- Learning tools for optimal communication such as how to respond, versus react, and not fall into unhealthy patterns.
- Identifying and processing feelings of shame, guilt, fear, anger and resentment.
- Learning how to take responsibility for oneself and not taking on the emotions of the addicted individual.
- Identifying healthy and unhealthy interactions within a family system in order to improve wellness.
- Identifying codependent behaviors, including denial, enabling, rescuing and minimizing.
- Defining and understanding the recovery process for the patient and his or her family.
- Understanding relapse.
- Formulating an aftercare plan.
Family SystemsA family is a system. Think of your family as a system that is greater than the sum of its parts. Each part of that system is based on the norms for that family that work in order to maintain the system as a whole. For example, a child may take on the role of a comedian to displace the stress that threatens the system’s integrity. What is your role in the family that helps maintain the integrity of the system? Five Characteristics of a Healthy Family System:
- The ability to express anger without denying love.
- The ability to accept differences in opinions and feelings.
- The ability for clear, direct communication that allows feelings to be expressed.
- The ability for family members to depend on the larger community for support.
- The ability to gradually hand over age-appropriate decision-making that supports independence.
Family RolesHowever you define your family, we are certain that each member has a role. For example, who fills the role of family spokesperson? Who fills the role of comic relief? Who has the role of primary bread-winner? These are common roles found in a family. You may or may not have considered your role(s) before. Nevertheless, you have one or more. Like any system, if certain parts become problematic, the system breaks. The other parts of the system must then work harder to maintain the system’s integrity. Dysfunctional families do not acknowledge that problems exist. They don’t talk about them or confront them. As a result, family members learn to repress emotions and disregard their own needs. They become “survivors.” They develop behaviors that help them deny, ignore or avoid difficult emotions. They don’t feel. They don’t trust. The identity and emotional development of the members of a dysfunctional family are often inhibited. Attention and energy is focused on the family member who is ill or addicted. In other words, they become codependent. The codependent person typically sacrifices his or her own needs to take care of a person who is sick. When the codependent person places other people’s health, welfare, and safety before their own, they can lose contact with their own needs, desires, and sense of self.
The Path to Healing for Your Family
At Michael’s House, the healing of the whole family is important to us. Our comprehensive treatment plans address co-occurring disorders through evidence-based therapies, but we also rehabilitate individuals through life skills training, holistic methods and restorative programs like our family weekends. To learn more about how we can help you and your loved ones find healthy, sustainable recovery, contact us today.