At Paradigm Malibu, we also offer multi-family group therapy that provides an excellent complement to our individual family therapy sessions. Whereas the individual family sessions are more focused on the intensive work happening within treatment as related to the specific dynamics at play within a family, our multi-family therapy groups are extremely helpful in broadening family members’ perspectives and understanding of the treatment process, as well as providing them with an understanding, sympathetic community with which to interact and process their experiences. In a nutshell, our multi- family therapy sessions are extremely valuable in allowing families experiencing similar concerns to process and learn from each other. Though these sessions can certainly have their difficulties and challenges, we find this work to be powerful, rewarding, and also necessary to adolescents’ recovery.
The group family sessions provide a nice counterpart to help provide families with perspective and encouragement within their experience. Being involved with a teen or family member’s adolescent treatment can often feel like an extremely isolating experience, one which makes people feel that they are on their own treading this ground. Even when teens and their family members are aware of the statistics and numbers surrounding Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders, it can nonetheless feel so unfamiliar that they still experience a sense of aloneness within it. It’s common for siblings to feel frustrated, scared, and/or angry and it’s common for parents to feel at a loss, afraid, and overwhelmed. Though every teen and every family’s journey through treatment is individual, many of the experiences overlap. Because of this, the multi-family group sessions can be very encouraging to first and foremost, let the families know that they’re not the only ones, and they’re not in this alone.
Though at first family members might feel intimidated or uncomfortable sharing their experiences, the teens in treatment have already become familiar with the group therapy process, and often will even take the lead in these family sessions. There is something very poignant in family members getting to hear the experience of other families struggling through the treatment process and all that it entails. For one thing, learning about other families’ particular struggles, dynamics, fears, and hopes can often help people to better understand and even accept their own processes. These sessions can also help provide families with perspective, as listening to other stories helps people to recognize that every family has its strengths and weaknesses, that what may be a challenge to one is simple to another, and to keep this in mind and make efforts to build on strengths.
Lastly, these sessions can also help family members to develop compassion and understanding, by listening to other teens that are struggling with all different aspects of Teen Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder. Sometimes, the experience of listening to another teen helps family members to more openly listen to and acknowledge the kind of challenges that this treatment involves. In many cases, the time leading up to teens entering treatment can be very stressful and trying, causing conflicts, rifts, and hurt within family relationships. When families have the opportunity to be a part of a greater group of people, facing similar struggles and stresses, and making similar efforts to grow, there is a tendency for people to leave feeling encouraged and reenergized to continue.
The design and implementation of family sessions as part of adolescent treatment is one of the most unique aspects of adolescent treatment itself. The need for involving the family stems from the very nature and characteristics of adolescence itself, which is a time when kids are gaining increasing independence, but also still under the care, responsibility, and provisions of their parents. Whereas in adult treatment, the treatment process and recovery are almost entirely the responsibility of the adult in treatment, the same just can’t be said for adolescents. Adolescents can be open, willing, and even successful in recovering, but if their families and home are not supportive and encouraging of that recovery, they will be extremely vulnerable to struggles and possibly relapse. With that being said, the process is delicate, and that’s why we incorporate the family sessions, under the careful guidance of our therapists, from the very start. We believe that these family sessions are one of the most fundamentally holistic aspects of our treatment programs, and necessary in helping teens and their families begin a new road of recovery and healing.