Family therapy is a crucial part of the treatment process at Hanbleceya.
But why is this so?
There are inherent problems in families where a member has a mental illness that creates stresses beyond those where that is not the case. Families that come to Hanbleceya often have had a long history of trying to cope with seemingly intractable problems. Some families try to set limits on behavior that are beyond the capability of the member who is the Identified Patient (IP). Some families are afraid to set even reasonable limits because they fear the IP will get upset and behave in symptomatic ways that can be frightening, dangerous, frustrating, infuriating, disappointing, saddening, embarrassing, and heartbreaking. Some families have members who have differing, even opposing views of what should be done when their IP is behaving in dysfunctional ways. Some IP’s view their families in negative, abandoning, or hurtful lights that have no relationship to how their families actually act or feel. Some families or some members of a family may not agree with Hanbleceya’s treatment philosophy, or the plan or structures that derive from that philosophy. In such cases, one or more family members may collude with the IP to undermine the treatment and treatment failure may result.
Family therapy, as the name implies, is psychological counseling that includes family members in helping their loved one and usually themselves to communicate better, solve problems, cope with stress, and change their patterns of interaction.
At Hanbleceya, we do Family therapy in three forms:
The traditional format is a series of sessions that include the client, all the family members involved in the treatment of that client, and one or more staff clinicians. We think it best that the sessions occur at the Center but they can be by telephone or video conference. Family members have the opportunity to relate to one another in a safe container where they:
- Learn, and teach us, about how they have interacted with one another,
- Learn how the presence of mental illness has damaged the fabric of the family,
- Learn more effective ways to interact with one another, and
- Learn how to handle the emotional burdens inherent in dealing with mental illness.
Family therapy helps heal the client, the family members and the family system itself.
The second format is the Family Support Group (FSG) where the families of clients in, or about to enter, the program gather at Hanbleceya every other month and they:
- Meet one another,
- Learn from one another,
- Support one another,
- Reinforce Family Therapy, NAMI and Al-Anon concepts, and
- Bring their history and experience to share and exchange.
FSG helps families take better care of themselves and bulwark the treatment of their loved one.
The third format is an eight session Psycho-Education Group offered to selected families. Family members learn in a more academic way about the program and the concepts that underlie how it functions. The families in these groups:
- Learn the ideas that inform our thinking,
- Learn the thinking that informs our treatment plans,
- Learn the treatment plans that inform the structures, recommendations, and limits that we set on our clients and their families, and
- Learn from and instruct the other families.
The Groups facilitate each family member in understanding their loved one’s behaviors. In addition, they learn how each family member can act in firm, fair, consistent ways that support the healing of their loved one and themselves.
Hanbleceya finds great value in Family therapy because we believe it can help you:
- Pinpoint specific challenges and how that family is handling them
- Learn new ways to interact and overcome unhealthy patterns of relating to each other
- Set individual and family goals and work on ways to achieve them.
Family therapy does not automatically solve family conflicts or make an unpleasant situation go away. Nevertheless, it can help family members to understand one another better, and it can provide each member with skills to cope with challenging situations in more effective ways.