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Why Family Therapy is a Key Element in Recovery

September 18, 2013

Why Family Therapy is a Key Element in Recovery

An interview with Dr. Carlyle Bruce, Family Psychologist

The goal of family therapy is to help the families and clients here take a look at what’s been going on with them as a family and try to help them identify patterns or issues that they need to address to aid in the client’s recovery and in the family’s recovery. Family therapy changes over time because, at the beginning of treatment families often are dealing with acute kinds of issues. They are very stressed and concerned about their loved one. Many times, there’s just a sense of relief of having someone safely in treatment. So, the initial family therapy sessions often are focused on trying to help people adjust to this new setting, adjust to the schedule and adjust to the many questions they may have about what’s going on. Over time, the kinds of things that are talked about tend to shift towards those long standing kinds of issues that may have been there for a while.

There are a number of issues that families deal with, and there are a number of different situations that family therapy can address. In some families, for example, it could be dealing with the impact of mental illness on a young adult and how a family has adjusted to that new diagnosis in trying to help their loved one. It could be that there are issues that occurred between other family members as a result of a mental illness. For example, parents of someone who is a client here may find that their conflict rises, that the stress of decision-making and transitioning roles comes out in many other places, like in a marital relationship. It could be that clients who are parents, have concerns about their child at home. How do they talk to their child about their mental illness? Or their child may be having some behavioral issues as they try to adjust to what’s going on with their parent. So there are a lot of different kinds of issues that may come up where family therapy could be very helpful.

One of the reasons why family therapy is an important element here at Skyland Trail is because Skyland Trail really believes that it’s not just the client who is dealing with mental illness; it’s often a family issue. It is a family issue from the standpoint of the family is a support, and the family is a great aid in the recovery. But we also look at what goes for a person as a system. That’s why we have a multidisciplinary team that includes not only individual therapy but horticultural therapy, and recreational therapy and all the many other disciplines that are involved in a clients’ treatment here. Family therapy is a key element and a key participant in that recovery process.