How Does Family-Based Intervention Work?
Successful prevention of substance use among youth always requires the involvement of strong families. Healthy family relationships are a first guard rail against risky behaviors. This is why the medical community has been calling for family-based prevention and intervention regarding the rise of adolescent substance addiction.
What Is Included in Family-Based Approaches?
Naturally, family is important for the nurturing of a younger generation. Teens and adolescents are subject to the parents’ monitoring and support. This can help rein in risky behaviors during this volatile phase of their development.
Even before that, family is where children’s emotional and mental health is supported. Unfortunately, the family also tends to be the primary place where trauma, abuse, and neglect happen, leading to a wide array of problems that impact young people’s emotional and mental health in a negative way.
Family-based prevention and intervention pay attention to family communication and conflict, the parents’ mental health, the child’s learning disorders, and peer networks. It takes a systemic lens in identifying the most common risk factors in a family system, which includes not just the parents, but their social environments, such as neighborhoods and social peer groups.
Why Is Family-Based Prevention and Intervention Effective?
For the reasons listed above, if one needs to trace the root causes of youth addiction, that would be the primary family environment. Research shows that family-based intervention and treatments are highly effective for young people who struggle with substance addiction. Some even suggest that they are more effective than other one-on-one and group treatment options.
Family-based intervention often involves outpatient care. Because parents and caregivers in the family are given the primary responsibility while being supported by interventionists or therapists, this approach provides the best possible care for adolescent substance addiction in young people’s natural social environment.
What Kinds of Therapy Are Family-Based Approaches?
Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) examines a young person’s behaviors by considering unhealthy family interactions. It often involves a dozen sessions, with the counselor forming a relationship with each family member and observing their interactions. The counselor then assists family members in changing negative interaction patterns.
Family Behavioral Therapy (FBT) combines behavioral observation with crisis management to address risky behavior among teens and adolescents. At least one parent and the youth participate in treatment. The therapist coaches family members to use positive behavioral strategies and encourages them to apply new relationship skills in improving the home environment.
Functional Family Therapy (FFT) is aimed at improving communication, problem-solving, conflict resolution, and parenting skills within a family system. The therapist motivates family members to improve and change. He or she also introduces techniques in these areas (communication and conflict resolution) to modify family members’ behaviors at home.
Multidimensional Family Therapy (MDFT) broadens a family-based approach to a community-based intervention model. It helps improve family competency and collaboration with other neighborhood systems such as schools or the legal system. It can be very effective in reintegrating juvenile detainees with substance addiction problems.
Multi-systemic Therapy (MST) addresses severe cases of substance addiction among youth who demonstrate violent tendencies. The therapist examines the young person’s patterns of behaviors as well as those of his or her family, peers, and neighborhood actors. Counseling sessions may touch on issues that involve multiple systems that impact the youth.
How Can Families Do Better in Supporting Youth?
First of all, family members need to realize the importance of their relationships with the young person who is struggling with risky behavior. They should reflect on their own actions and take more responsibility for the young person’s problems as part of a family system’s malfunctioning. Family members are expected to show up during intervention and treatment in a supportive, rather than condemning, posture.
Second, family members need open and honest communication about how to improve the system from now on. Maybe a young person’s problems serve as a wake-up call for all family members to modify their ways of behaving to each other. A relationship built with open communication almost always leads to improvement in the young person. Meanwhile, parents and caregivers should respect the young person’s ability to make decisions. A domineering attitude does not help the situation.
Lastly, family members should realize that they need professional help from other systems that may also influence the young person. They can serve as the youth’s advisors or task force for connecting him or her with the best possible resources in the school or neighborhood systems. While doing this, family members should acquire more cultural literacy about how different families and systems have distinct cultural beliefs. This can help them set up healthy boundaries by not imposing their own beliefs on others.
Successful prevention of substance use among youth always requires the involvement of strong families. Healthy family relationships are the first guard rail against risky behaviors. This is why the medical community has been calling for family-based prevention and intervention regarding the rise of adolescent substance addiction. Family-based intervention integrates the most beneficial support and treatment. You can work with a professional interventionist to learn more about these options. South Florida Intervention has professionally-trained interventionists who have helped many teens and young adults recover. Knowing the importance of family support, we are a big advocate for family-based intervention approaches. Our recovery coaches help your loved one connect with a strong and supportive recovery community while enjoying positive support from family members. Many families benefit from a range of our services – from recovery coaching and parent coaching to sober escort and ongoing case management. Call us today at (202) 390-2273 to learn more.