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Family Therapy for Mental Health Treatment
Although individual therapy is essential to the recovery process, family therapy can be equally as vital. Approaching mental health treatment as a family can help individuals stick to their treatment protocols and know that their family supports them.
Family therapy benefits both the person with the mental health disorder and all the family members, making the treatment process more manageable and effective.
What Is Family Therapy?
Family therapy is one kind of psychotherapy. This treatment approach aids families in improving their communication skills and resolving conflicts within the family unit. Generally, family therapy is provided by a licensed psychologist, clinical social worker, or licensed therapist.
This treatment type can be a healthy way for families to talk about how their family member’s mental health issues have affected them all. Sessions can happen while the individual is still going through the treatment process at an inpatient or outpatient treatment program.
Another form of family therapy is family intervention. This involves the family addressing the affected family member with the mental health issue and letting them know they are supported but need to get treatment.
Family Therapy Treatment Approaches
A few forms of family therapy are used regularly by clinicians today. These include:
- Private family sessions: these sessions involve a family therapist and one or more members of the family.
- Group family sessions: involve clients and their loved ones.
- Individual counseling: for spouses and children of the recovering person
- 12-step support group meetings: for families who have members with mental health and alcohol use disorders.
Family Therapy Sessions: What to Expect
Family therapy likely starts after someone has undergone formal mental health treatment and made some progress. It often involves the person in treatment and at least one if not more of their family members.
Life skills are introduced to the family as tools to help improve their home environment. The family will learn to communicate and act in ways that will support their loved one’s recovery effectively.
Goal setting is another part of family therapy. Family members will be asked to set specific goals for their roles within the family unit. These goals and their progress will be reviewed during each treatment session.
Some family therapy techniques and activities may include:
- role playing
- open emotional expression
- writing letters to self or others
- communication techniques
Benefits of Family Therapy
When viewed as a family problem that affects everyone living with someone with a mental health issue, family therapy provides benefits that may include:
- keeping your loved one invested in their recovery
- learning more about the mental health disorder and its effects on your family
- understanding how treatment works and what to expect when it’s over
- helping family members voice feelings and ask questions about their loved one’s condition
- easing feelings of fear, stress, and confusion related to mental health
- develop new skills to help a loved one recover
- improving family relations and communication
- addressing mental illnesses within the family
- improving long-term recovery success
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