Family Systems Therapy Program
At Pacific Solstice Addiction Treatment Center, we are strong believers in Family Systems Therapy.
In systemic thinking, many individual components are both directly and indirectly connected to each other. Therefore, what happens to one party, affects all the other parties that are interconnected. All the interconnected entities create what we call a system. This has both positive, and negative attributes. In fact, we don’t want to alter the good things that are maintained in the system. We do, however, want to alter the not so good things that are malfunctioning in this interconnected system.
Families that have a member who is suffering the effects of drug and alcohol addiction are all affected by the consequences created from this dynamic. Naturally, the visible and easily identifiable individual who is experiencing such stress as a result of their addiction becomes the entire focus of the family. Family members understandably believe that if they could just change the addict, the entire family system would be returned to normalcy. Certainly, there is much truth to this paradigm.
But it’s not quite that simple!
To begin with, the addict is not the only one who has suffered and has been hurt. All members of the family have been hurt. Therefore, it is essential that all members receive some form of treatment in healing as well. This is not only a simple matter of justice, but it is also essential for the well-being of the addict. Early recovery is no picnic. A newly sober addict can barely manage to identify and address their own emotional needs. Inadvertently burdening the addict with unresolved pain can result in a tragic loss of the addict’s newfound sobriety. For this reason alone, it is important that the family members participate in their own recovery as well. Also, a wonderful synergy can be established when all family members are on the same page and working from the same script. When all family members are utilizing new tools, a tremendous sense of intimacy and flow can result. This is the second stage of recovery and healing that the entire family system deserves.
If all this sounds a little overwhelming, here’s some good news: A family system does not have to wait for the miracle of the addict suddenly reaching the point of surrender and willingness. Remember when we said all interconnected parties in the system directly affect each other? Well, it works both ways! When the family system enters treatment together, it becomes mighty lonely and difficult for the addict to continue their old pattern of manipulation and behavior. Sometimes, the family heals first, and the addict follows.
So, please let this be empowering to you! You can begin your treatment for both yourself and your family anytime you choose. We beg of you not to wait for the addict to start. You need to start now on your own. Not just for your own well-being, but for the benefit of the entire system.
There is an inherent dichotomy in all of this. Although in one very real sense, you are completely powerless in regards to your loved ones addiction and recovery. Yet, at the very same time, you are more powerful than you have yet to realize. As licensed mental health professionals, we have seen time and again over many decades and with many families, that the family participating in treatment so often leads the addict to have no choice but to eventually participate themselves.