Addiction is a disease that affects the addicts and the friends and family surrounding them. The most affected person in an addict’s life is their spouse. They get first hand emotional, financial, and social burden of the addict. Therefore, when it comes to recovery, it is also essential to consider the spouse of the addict. Whether one or both parties are addicts, scheduling couples therapy is ideal if the relationship is to survive.
What is Couples Therapy?
Couples therapy is a form of psychological therapy that aims to resolve substance use disorder issues within a spousal relationship. In a couples therapy session, the couple sets up an appointment with a therapist. The therapist helps the couple work through the raw emotions during the first session. The therapy aims to build a support system, facilitate recovery and sobriety, and maintain the spousal relationship.
Conventionally, couples therapy should start soon after the detoxification step. It takes an average of about 15 sessions that are spread over six months. Alternatively, the couple may opt for a crash program that takes about three months at a minimum. It is important to note that for some addicts, the spouse might be a trigger. For such cases, couples therapy should be withheld until the patient is stable enough to initiate such a triggering conversation.
The Purpose of A Couples Therapy
When one partner struggles with substance use disorder, the spousal relationship is often strained due to the behavioral patterns of the addicts. Most addicts lack employment which impacts financial strain in the family. Also, there is high precedence of infidelity among addicts. Such a relationship will tend to have a lot of instability, dissatisfaction, and passive aggression. There must be a stable environment once the addict gets out of rehab. Couples therapy, therefore, serves to:
- Improve communication between the spouses
- Create a more empathetic environment for the addict to go into recovery once they are done with the rehabilitation center
- Provide a healthy way to deal with conflict
- Facilitate amicable separation among couples that call it quits
- Create a healthy environment for the kids (if they have any) to grow up in
- Promote abstinence among recovering addicts
During a couples therapy session, the therapist provides a suitable non-judgemental environment for both partners to air out what they are feeling. After sorting out the hurt in the relationship, the therapist will give techniques to solve the issues amicably. In some cases, the therapist may emphasize positive reaffirmations and give homework to help the couple better communicate with one another. Each session is different from the next, and progression is measured by effectively communicating without fear or inhibition.
The spouse that is not suffering from addiction is often encouraged to be positive and provide a chance for change for the recovering addict. Additionally, such couples are encouraged to engage in activities that they previously found joy in to try and rekindle their love and affection for each other. Studies have shown that behavioral couples therapy (CBT) has remarkedly improved strained relations among spouses and the family. Also, behavioral couples therapy reduces the risk for relapse as the recovering addicts get the support they need to weather through the societal expectations and easily overcome triggers.
The History of Behavioural Couples Therapy
Since time immemorial, addiction and substance use disorder have been viewed as personal issues. However, as more studies were done, it revealed how social relationships, particularly spousal relationships, affected the behavior and patterns of an addict. Sometimes, childhood trauma can be traced in some cases of addiction. Unless the core reason is assessed and treated, addicts tend to relapse when it is time to rejoin society. Once an addict relapses, it becomes challenging to stay on the track of sobriety.
Therefore, health specialists came up with treatments programs that were personal and dealt with the larger family system. This idea conceptualized behavioral couples therapy, which extended to family therapy. Evidence collected from randomized clinical trials proved the effectiveness of such therapies among recovering addicts. There were lesser incidences of addiction relapse, domestic violence cases, and emotional issues among recovering addicts.
Additionally, there has been an improvement in the relationship between the partners and the psychosocial development of children born into families affected by addiction. The journey of recovering from addiction is not easy; however, the first step is to recognize a problem. For any inquiries concerning substance use disorder, or if your family member or spouse is struggling with addiction, feel free to contact us at 772-266-5320.