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Family Treatment Program

Many people view mood disorders and addiction as an individual issue. After all, it is reasoned, the family member in treatment has a disease. However, researchers and counseling professionals know that addictions and co-occurring disorders are a family problem.

The Morningside Family Program helps family members find ways to arrest the syndrome of loss, illness, and despair. This syndrome often has deeper roots in the family system than most members care to notice. One of the key facets of addictive behavior is denial, not only by the client, but by the family as well. Family members expect to support their loved one’s treatment process, but often benefit most from gentle guidance. Family members gain the necessary insight into codependency, enabling, and generational dysfunction.

Our Family Program is an intensive program that includes group meetings, lectures for family members, one-on-one meetings with therapists, and educational seminars over a long weekend once per month. Family members attend seminars where they learn how to identify dysfunction and improve communication. For example, a family member with codependency issues may have good intentions. They want to take care of their loved one, covering for a hung-over husband, or giving money to an addicted grandson. In fact, research has suggested that one of the most influential factors in the life of a substance abuser or a mentally ill individual is family interaction.

Before, when I talked to my dad I had to sit on my hands. I don’t like being angry like that. When my dad came for the first part of the family program, I was twenty days into treatment and angry — but I still learned a lot. Later, at the second weekend I felt like we were both way more open-minded.”
Former Morningside Client

Therapy in Morningside’s Family Program uses the family’s strengths and resources to find ways to support the best possible outcomes. The Family Program helps families become aware of their own needs and helps keep substance abuse from moving from one generation to another.

Thus, getting the family involved in therapy can be a highly efficient treatment method. It helps motivate clients and helps them to focus on family relationships and helps to keep them from returning to old patterns when they return home. For example, one educational seminar explores how to determine when a family member shifts from being a “caring person” to becoming a “codependent.” A worksheet might ask family members if they have an exaggerated sense of responsibility for the actions of others, or are hurt when people don’t recognize their efforts. Frequently, individuals are surprised to discover their underlying feelings are inadequacy, fear, and helplessness.

Though often unrealized, the person with the addiction is the center of dysfunction. As families learn about the familial roles presented in workshops, they can often identify who plays a particular role. In other words, family members often unknowingly take on specific stereotypes that can be classified. These stereotypical roles are based on fear, guilt, and shame. As with any recovery, information is power when it comes to understanding what others are feeling.