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Family Education

When a person deals with PTSD or substance abuse, often there are problems in the family unit. Sometimes this is in the open and people are willing to work on it. Sometimes the families have difficulty discussing it with each other. People will often ask themselves, “What if I just stopped the action or behavior that causes problems? Would that not solve the problem? Everyone would then be happy, right?”

You and your family might be wondering why you should attend family education and family therapy. The facts are that family members play an essential role in dealing with or at times enabling problem behaviors in one or more of their members. Because family members generally live in close proximity to one other their choices and behaviors impact everybody. This in turn affects everyone else.

Using a systems approach, family education and family therapy are designed to assist all members of the family to be heard and to meet the challenges of working together as a system to develop mutual understanding and flexibility. These adjustments can be a huge change from the rigid ways of handling problems in the past. Family treatment can help validate the basis for the lack of trust experienced by family members and help to re-build this trust between the patient and the family. In addition, one of the most important aspects of this approach is to assist all family members in taking responsibility for their own actions and to develop their own accountability system. The family systems approach also helps develop family and individual goals and creates opportunities to reduce resentment and tension.

PTSD and substance abuse are just two issues that can contribute to closing off the family unit to outside influences and can contribute to isolation of the patient and/or the family members. A family member dealing with post-traumatic stress reactions, mood disorders or substance abuse can make life for the family very unpredictable. Everyone may feel like walking on egg shells or avoid anything that may trigger an anger outburst, isolation, a drinking binge or another drug run. Enabling negative behavior is an attempt to balance and keep the family in some kind of equilibrium, even though it is an unhealthy balance. Each family member usually adjusts and gives up parts of himself/herself in a futile attempt to maintain family functioning.

Once the patient receives help and begins the recovery process, the rest of the family faces different challenges including how to adapt to the healthier patient. At times, family members may feel resentful or experience difficulties and ambivalence toward the returning patient. They may not be sure whether to trust the changes, thereby potentially undermining the patient’s success. This thinking, though clearly understandable, reduces the treatment benefits for all family members. At other times, family members will shoulder the responsibility for the patient’s post-treatment progress. In doing so, they may neglect their own self-care and deny their needs as individuals or members of the family system.

Cedar Springs is committed to work on not only the patient but also the family unit. This is why we encourage family members to participate in family education as well as family therapy during the patient’s stay. Family sessions can be facilitated in person or over the phone and should include the spouse or significant other, children, extended family or ‘family members by choice’.

Starting this very important part of the recovery process, we pledge to assist you and your family in putting first order changes into place while also working on second order changes. This can help to solidify progress made by all members of the family. Your provider and discharge planner will work diligently with you and your family to set up continuing family sessions and provide you with a comprehensive resource listing for your area before the patient’s departure from treatment.