Lifeskills Mental Health Blog

What is the family’s role in treatment?

Lifeskills South Florida patients spelling out "family" in front of a sunset

What is the family’s role in treatment?

By: Moshe Winograd, Ph.D.

Active engagement of the family in the treatment process plays a pivotal role in the successful recovery of mental illness. With proper education and open communication with the treatment team, families can help reduce the isolation and suffering that is often felt by someone with a mental illness.

At Lifeskills South Florida, we view families as an important component in the treatment experience. As family therapists, we work closely with families from the moment of admission. Our goal is to learn more about the client in the context of their family life, so we can be a support to the family during each stage of treatment, and work through core issues of family dynamics. We work to ensure that while using an evidence-based family system approach we do so in a manner that fits the unique landscape of each family and client presentation.

There is a significant body of research that demonstrates how important family involvement is for the client both during and after treatment. Families play a vital role as caregiver, and it is critical to ensure that through family therapy, they learn appropriate ways of responding and interacting with the unique needs of their loved one. We know that when a family is appropriately involved in the treatment process, there is a better long-term prognosis. However, this can be challenging due to the significant burden on the family and the myriad of ways this can impact their own physical and emotional well being. The stress can come from the demands of the caregiver role and the negative, direct impact of the psychiatric symptoms themselves.

Integrating the Family into Treatment

This underscores the importance of ongoing intensive family therapy both during and after treatment. The family therapy program at Lifeskills South Florida is influenced by Bowenian Family Therapy and General Systems Theory, meaning we view the family as a system and every member has a circular cause and effect relationship with each other. When a loved one is suffering from a mental health disorder or substance use disorder, it can disrupt the cohesion and stability of the family system. Our team of family therapists guides family members during the treatment process which includes regularly scheduled sessions that help them work through resentments, as well as new dynamics and challenges. The interventions and concepts we use are designed to couple with recommended ancillary supports to provide a comprehensive recovery program for the family.

Aside from family therapy there a variety of other supports for families such as the weekly Family Alliance call, as well as by attending ALONON and NAMI meetings. The Family Alliance call is a weekly call that is facilitated by the Lifeskills Family Department with presentations on a variety of clinical issues and topics such as medication management, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), spirituality, and trauma. The group is also offered as a support group where family members can discuss any ongoing issues and receive support and feedback from the family therapist on the call as well as other families on the call.

Lifeskills Family Weekend

Another important component of family work that takes place during treatment at Lifeskills is the Family Weekend. This is an intensive program geared toward clients who are psychiatrically stabilized, and the family is involved in ongoing family work. The program consists of psycho educational presentations by various Lifeskills staff, group family therapy, therapeutic exercises focused on family dynamics and support groups. We consistently hear from families about this being an important and powerful component to their ongoing family work.

We understand that when a loved one is suffering from an addiction or mental illness; family members can often find themselves at a loss for direction. It is not uncommon for them to feel overwhelmed and our program helps guide them through the process with hope, peace, and love.

If you or a loved one need help with a mental illness, Lifeskills South Florida can help. For more information on our evidence-based treatment, call our admissions team at 954-953-1742 or complete our contact form.


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