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Addiction affects entire families and other loved ones of patients in recovery, as it has every day since the substance abuse began. In fact, addiction doesn’t just affect these people, it’s woven into the family’s dynamic. Because of the far-reaching ramifications of substance abuse and pre-existing issues that may have led to the drug or alcohol use in the first place, the whole family must be treated as part of an addiction treatment program.
Families of patients in treatment often engage in family counseling, events, educational programs and other forms of family participation. These programs help families understand addiction better and identify issues in the related group dynamic that must be worked through for the family’s best chance of recovery as individuals and a cohesive unit.
Family experiential therapy is one of several types of therapeutic methods used to improve family communication, anger management, problem solving, expression of feelings, coping skill development and other aspects of their interpersonal relationships. Family experiential therapy is like individual experiential therapy, in that it involves more than just talking through issues with a therapist.
Individual experiential therapy commonly includes art therapy, music therapy and yoga therapy. Similarly, family experiential therapy may involve games, art, puzzles, outdoor recreation or other forms of engagement. Many families enjoy experiential therapy together and find themselves relaxing, getting involved more easily and even laughing together for the first time in a long time.
While many family members first think, “This isn’t serious enough to help,” they are often astounded by how much family experiential therapy improves their family dynamic. It can also be more engaging and fun than standard talk therapy, adding another dimension of problem identification and healing to family recovery from addiction.
According to Liana Lowenstein and Trudy Post Sprunk, authors of “Creative Family Therapy Techniques, Play and Art-Based Activities to Assess and Treat Families,” family experiential therapy unlocks deeper communication and enables emotional engagement directly and physically without the self-censorship of talk therapy. Through their activities, families learn more about themselves and how to heal.
The Journal of Child and Family Studies published the results of a study in October 2011, also clarifying the benefits of family experiential therapy. That study, called “Experiential Activities in Family Therapy: Perceptions of Caregivers and Youth,” reflected through results that participants found the therapy activities helpful toward creation of positive interaction between family members, thus improving communications skills. The family members also reported feeling stronger desire to participate and engage in the treatment process.
Experiential therapy is one form of family participation in addiction treatment that helps the entire family recover from addiction. Psychoeducational programs also help patients and their loved ones understand addiction and the role co-occurring disorders play in substance abuse, when a dual diagnosis exists.
Experiential therapy becomes part of patients’ lives in treatment, individually and with their families. Patients also gain individual therapy, group therapy and other forms of treatment as part of a comprehensive individual treatment plan. Together, all of these programs ensure the best possible chance for long-term recovery of patients and the people who love them most.
Addiction to drugs and alcohol affects every member of the family, not just the substance abusers. Consequently, the whole family must get help in order to recover as individuals and a healthy family unit.
At Recovery in Motion, this need for help for the entire family is recognized and provided for through a comprehensive family participation program. Experiential therapy is part of that program and can ensure each member of the family heals together. Call Recovery in Motion now at 866-849-0901 to gain help for your loved one and everyone in your family. Now is the time to make your future more bright and loving with experiential therapy.