At Jeremy Frank & Associates we are all trained in family counseling approaches which can help to address the impact that addiction or mental health problems have on the family. Most people seeking treatment for drug or alcohol use or other mental illness will benefit from some adjunctive family therapy at some point in their recovery. Whether it makes sense to do this in the beginning or to wait until the identified patient becomes more stable is a question to consider with your therapist. Oftentimes we like to see people clean and sober for a while or at least stable and working on themselves before they begin to work together as a couple or a family but most mental health experts who treat addiction will agree that “addiction is a family disease” and that each member of the family is therefor thrust into some aspect of recovery. Typically it is recommended that family members come in and do some family sessions with the identified patient and sometimes do their own individual work or couples work especially as parents. Many times siblings will have strong feelings of guilt that they could not change a brother or sister’s trajectory or they may feel very angry that their parents spent so much time, energy and anxiety focussing on their sibling. It is important to flush these feelings out and to give family members and opportunity to voice their feelings and realize that their feelings are valid, normal and that they are not alone in feeling the way that they do.
We help family members determine if they would benefit in coming together for as little as one or two sessions or if they would benefit from a more ongoing supportive counseling scenario. We are trained in either couples or family approaches that can supplement and support traditional drug and alcohol counseling. We have experience in running family programs at the Inpatient or Intensive Outpatient Level. We have folks on staff with degrees and certifications as Masters In Family and Marital Therapy or Licensed Professional Counselors and these experiences and credentials have supported our experience and understanding of issues relevant to families of people struggling with addiction. In some cases we have personal experience in attending Al-Anon and Nar-Anon or in learning how to address and live with addiction in our own families.
Some resources and information on helping families cope with addiction are listed below:
CRAFT – Community Reinforcement and Family Training – The Center for Motivation and Change describes this sort of treatment very well. http://motivationandchange.com/outpatient-treatment/for-families/craft-overview – CRAFT is an evidenced based and empirically supported method which has shown to be effective in guiding loved ones to accept help. The Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia has been pioneering programs which have compassionate and effective techniques based on principles of psychological behavior therapy. We highly recommend the book Get Your Loved One Sober by Robert J. Meyers, Ph.D and Brenda L. Wolfe, Ph.D. which is based on CRAFT a “proven prevention program.”
WebMD – Teen Depression – This page explains the symptoms of teenage depression and why adolescents become depressed. When a teenager’s irritable mood lasts for more than two weeks and is accompanied by other symptoms of depression, such as, apathy, physical pain, difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, memory loss, loss of interest in activities, and other symptoms, the irritability may be more than just a bad mood; it may be a serious form of depression. There are many different reasons why a teenager may become depressed including family problems and other environmental stressors.
Teen Depression: Prevention Begins With Parental Support – This is a page to educate parents about teenage depression. It explains the causes and how to prevent it. It also has a lot of other information for parents.
National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) for Teens – The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), created this Web site to educate adolescents ages 11 through 15 (as well as their parents and teachers) on the science behind drug abuse. It has a section for facts about different kinds of drugs such as anabolic steroids, ecstasy, inhalants, marijuana, prescription drugs, stimulants, tobacco, and other drugs. There is also a FAQ section and personal stories from teenagers about their experiences.
Teen Drinking: Talking to Your Teen About Alcohol – This is a page designed for parents/guardians of teenagers to help them talk to their teenagers about drinking alcohol.
Talk to Your Kids About Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs – This page is designed to help parents talk to their children about tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. It has links to other pages about facts on drugs, including alcohol and tobacco.
Helping Your Children Navigate Their Teenage Years: A Guide for Parents – This page is to help parents talk to their teenagers about drug use.
Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence – U.S. Department of Education – This is an online pamphlet designed for parents and other caregivers of young adolescents. It explains the changes that young teenagers experience. There are many physical, emotional, and cognitive changes that a young adolescent experiences. There are tips on how to be an effective parent and how to better communicate with children.
Helping Teenagers With Stress (PDF File – Feel free to reprint) – This pamphlet, part of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry’s Facts For Families series, provides parents and teenagers with ways to cope with their stress.
Bullying (PDF File – Feel free to reprint) – This pamphlet, part of the American Academy of Child Psychiatry’s Facts For Families series, discusses adolescent bullying and ways to help your child cope.
“Parenting as Therapy for Child’s Mental Disorders” (Carey, Benedict, The New York Times, 12/22/06) – The science behind nondrug treatments for childhood behavioral disorders is getting stronger.
“Living With Love, Chaos and Haley” (Belluck, Pam, The New York Times, 10/22/06) – The families of children diagnosed with mental disorders are often left on their own to sort through a cacophony of conflicting advice.
“What’s Wrong With a Child? Psychiatrists Often Disagree” (Carey, Benedict, The New York TImes, 11/11/06) – Increasing numbers of children are being treated for psychiatric problems, but naming those problems remains more an art than a science.