Our belief at Paradigm Malibu is that family treatment is integral to successful adolescent treatment. In order for teens to successfully engage in the treatment process, recover, and continue successfully and without relapse in the future, they must have the support, understanding, and encouragement of their family. With this being said, it’s important to recognize that this family therapy work is certainly not entirely built for the benefit of the teens, but also for the benefit, healing, and processing of the other family members as well. In order to support all the different needs of teens and family members during the Teen Treatment process, we’ve designed a number of different therapeutic family programs, designed to support everyone involved, every step of the way.
Our family programs include Family Day, Individual Family Therapy Sessions, Group Family Therapy Sessions, Parent Effectiveness Training, and Family Dynamics and Education. In Teen Family Dynamics and Education, we work with families to specifically address the dynamics at play within relationships, which often have powerful ramifications, even if they’re unknowingly and habitually carried out. It’s common in families for certain dynamics to develop that are repeated regularly and which lead to continuous tension and hurt feelings between people. Any of these already existing dynamics are likely to be even further aggravated while the family is experiencing a teen undergoing treatment, as it has strenuous effects on everyone’s lives. One aspect of the Dynamics and Education is for therapists to help teens and their family members recognize what feelings and dynamics may have developed during or because of the teen’s treatment, as well as those which existed beforehand but may be problematic for some reason. In an effort to improve the quality of communication and dynamics overall, it also allows family members an opportunity to voice the difficulties that have been caused in their lives, due to the teen’s struggle. Though communicating these things can be sometimes difficult and even hurtful, it’s important for everyone to acknowledge that the adolescents’ experience preceding, throughout, and following treatment has strong effects on the entire family. Only when this kind of open and honest communication takes place can the dynamics and relationships in the family begin to heal and improve.
While our Family Sessions and Group Family Sessions provide a more direct setting for family therapy to take place, our Family Dynamics and Education is more of an informative time, for teens and families to gain information and resources regarding the work they’re doing in those therapy sessions. Especially for people that are new to therapy work, engaging in these therapeutic sessions can bring up a lot of questions, especially in cases where therapists might be engaging directly with parents or family members regarding a specific dynamic or conflict. This is one of the particularly unique aspects of adolescent treatment in general, that because the adolescents are not yet independent, parents (and sometimes other family members as well) play a very central and important role in the teen’s treatment process. As family members engage in therapy sessions, they might be challenged, confused, frustrated, or feel confronted by any number of things, including what’s being asked of them, what their teen is expressing, and/or what the therapist is leading them to do. So our Family Dynamics and Education is an opportunity for families to take a step back from that therapeutic process and ask questions and gain insight into what exactly is happening in that work. They will have the opportunity to ask questions of the therapist; learn more details about what their teens are experiencing; and learn, from more of an objective standpoint, what dynamics are present in their families that have led to relationships existing the way they do.