Can Close Friends Be Brought into the Family Therapy Process During Recovery?

The definition of family has rapidly evolved over the last several decades, even in the realm of therapy. While family therapy is often one of the most important and transformative areas of recovery, it does not always include people who you share blood with. Family can be relatives, but it can also include close friends and people who you’ve made a part of your chosen family. Anyone who is an active part of your life and plays a role in your support system can participate in family therapy. In fact, some people are not in contact with their blood relatives but actively engage with and rely on their closest friends to help them go through recovery.

What Happens in Family Therapy?

Your family needs to understand the role of addiction in your life and learn how they can support your sobriety. This includes gaining a better education about the experience of having a substance use disorder and how to be more supportive. In every family, people have unique roles that they fulfill. For example, a mother or father has a different role to fill in a family than a brother or sister. When people are unable to effectively communicate or fulfill their roles in the family, conflict arises.

Addiction can singlehandedly destroy the trust between family members, and it opens the doorway to a host of other behaviors that only worsen the situation. Enabling, lying, betrayal are all common behaviors that negatively impact family relationships through substance abuse. In family therapy, participants learn how their actions influence one another and learn how to better perform their unique roles in the unit. Close friends can learn how to build and sustain a healthy support system while also taking care of themselves; communication, conflict resolution and a grow-oriented mindset help guide everyone toward a place of collaboration and harmony.

Every Family Is Different

You don’t have to even be in contact with your biological relatives to participate in family therapy, but it can be a good way to start mending broken ties. In many cases of addiction, people are forced to make the painful decision to cut ties with the substance abuser. This doesn’t mean they no longer love them or care about them, though it’s difficult for it to not feel that way to the person who has been isolated. Therapy can help you all begin to repair and rebuild what has been broken by addiction; it gives you an open space to express your pain, anger, frustration and thoughts without escalating to a point that only causes more hurt. Close friends can also be brought in to be supportive figures in your recovery.

Their presence can be an immense comfort to you, especially as you turn to them for support when there are strained relationships with your biological family. You can’t have too many people love and care for you; anyone who is willing to put in the effort to actively be a part of your social support network can be considered a part of your family in counseling. Together, you will create goals and healthy patterns around recovery that improve your relationships and foster greater levels of trust, love and connection.

Types of Family Therapy

There are many forms of counseling that may be used in your rehab’s family therapy program. Keep in mind that this is just one type of therapy you will participate in; group sessions and individual counseling will make up the bulk of your treatment. Although recovery is a largely independent process, building a healthy relationship with a supportive family can be immensely beneficial. Some types of counseling you may encounter include family systems therapy, where the family unit is addressed as a collaborative network rather than a group of individuals competing to be heard and respected.

There is also cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy, which can be used to help people gain a better understanding of their thoughts, emotions and actions. If family therapy is something meaningful to your recovery, we want to help you find the right rehab to provide it. Contact our representatives anytime to begin learning about treatment options near you. We can be reached 24-hours a day, 365 days a year at 772-934-6580.