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Family Dynamics in Treatment

family walking down beach holding hands self care: woman therapist practicing self care by meditating at the beach

Family dynamics play an important role in addiction treatment and therapy for mental illness. As counselors, we must identify specific family dynamics that can lead us to a better diagnosis and treatment plan. Many families have two or more members that are enmeshed, meaning they have relationships with poorly defined or no boundaries. For example, some parents and children may share information that we consider inappropriate due to their familial connection and age gap. We see highly rigid family dynamics as problematic, too, and must adapt to bring the family into treatment, helping them recognize that their changes will also benefit the patient.

Unfortunately, counselors are often overworked and, as a result, may not have the time or inclination to spend with family members. However, we know from experience that a significant reason for mental health and addiction issues often revolves around the family and past traumas. Traumas are different for everyone and don’t necessarily manifest similarly. What is traumatic for one person may be dismissed by another, and this is where a counselor can bridge the gap, bringing families together and helping them all work toward the same goal – recovering a loved one.