Navigating Family Roles During a Loved One’s Residential Treatment

There are many ways that you, as a family member, can help and support someone you care about in residential treatment for mental illness or a substance use disorder. Family plays a crucial role in treatment, providing support and empowerment for recovery. You can help your loved one by learning more about their condition, building or rebuilding a healthy relationship with them, learning what positive, healthy communication looks like, participating in therapy and other programs, and by offering ongoing support in the transition from treatment to home.

“Families have their own trauma around the person seeking treatment and separate from the person seeking treatment.– Dr. Karen Spedowfski, Alta Mira Recovery Programs

It’s not easy to see a loved one struggle with mental illness or substance use disorder, or both. But if you have helped your family member get into a residential treatment program, you are already helping. Your supportive role is not over at this point. Your loved one needs you to be there to participate in any way the program allows, to learn more about what they are going through, and to take care of yourself so that you will be ready to provide a safe home environment for the transition out of treatment.

Some family members are eager to get involved and to be actively supportive of their loved ones in care. This is great, and it will benefit the patient, but many residential facilities have a no-contact initial period after intake that should be respected. This period of time will be short, and it helps both the patient and the family to readjust.

Your loved one will need your active support, but initially it is essential to give them time to settle in and come to terms with the new residential treatment environment. Restrict contact during this time to your loved one’s caregivers and treatment professionals, and wait until you get the go ahead to make direct contact and get involved in the program.

Participating to Help Your Loved One

Different programs will offer different ways to participate and get involved with your loved one’s treatment. It is important that you participate in any way that is offered and recommended by the experts and treatment specialists. Mental illness impacts everyone in the family, which means the more people who get involved, the more effective treatment will be.

Participating in a loved one’s mental health care is useful because you are able to provide insights, background, and history that may be otherwise difficult for a therapist to access. Participation is also helpful for you as the family member. It can help you feel useful during a time when it seems as if there is nothing you can do to help. Being a part of treatment will help you and your loved one forge a new and stronger bond that benefits both of you.

Family Education – Learning About the Condition and How to Be Supportive

Many residential treatment programs involve the family through a program known as psychoeducation. Family psychoeducation is not the same as therapy. In family therapy, it is the family at the focus of the program. Psychoeducation places the mental illness at the center and teaches the family about it and how to communicate with and support the family member who is the patient. These programs provide information, resources, guidance on managing mental illness, and emotional and social support.

Several studies have confirmed that family psychoeducation helps support people in treatment for mental illness. Researchers have found that when patients’ families participate, they have improved symptoms, fewer relapses, and overall better family functioning and outcomes. This kind of family involvement has been found to be particularly useful in the management of severe conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Participating in Family Therapy

Also useful for your loved one in residential treatment is participation by the family in actual therapy. Family therapy sessions for the family are intended to improve relationships and communication skills and assist in resolving conflicts. This helps the family function better overall, but it also supports the person in treatment and afterward in recovery.

Family therapy is an important way for everyone to be able to heal, not just the patient in treatment. Mental illness and substance use disorder affect everyone in the family, and therapy together is a crucial source of healing that helps individuals move on and form stronger bonds with the rest of their family.

Joining Support Groups

Many programs offer support groups for families of those in treatment. Even if the residential facility in which your loved one is receiving care does not have these groups, you can participate by finding one in your area or online. The benefits of support groups are that they allow you to share your experiences, learn from others, and get and provide emotional and social support to and from people in a similar situation.

How this helps your loved one is that it keeps you healthy and in a better position to provide ongoing support. This is a difficult time, not just for your loved one but for everyone who cares about them. For your own sake and theirs, it is important to address your own mental health needs. Families have trauma too and as clinicians, we are very aware that the family is in need of our support and clinical expertise from the moment a loved one enters treatment and throughout their entire recovery process.

We’re Here to Help. Call Today!


Keeping Your Loved One in Treatment

There may come a time when the family member you have in treatment tells you they want to leave early. This is common, and they may have multiple reasons or excuses: they feel they have gotten everything they need from the program; the stress of being in a residential facility is too much; or they think they would do better at home.

It is essential that family stay strong in the face of these requests to get out early and come home. The best outcomes occur when a patient stays in treatment for the duration of a program. It will be very tempting to give in, especially if this is your adult child struggling. You must support, empower, and encourage your loved one to stick with it and tough it out for a successful recovery.

Providing a Safe, Stable Home after Treatment

Finally, when your loved one is ready to leave residential treatment, they will need somewhere safe to live. Many facilities have transition programs, including outpatient therapy and sessions, which help patients be more successful in leaving treatment and going back into the world. But, they still need somewhere to live that will support recovery.

If you can open your home to your loved one, and everyone who live there is supportive, this is the ideal option. But if you cannot, you can at least help your loved one by aiding the search for a good place to live. Whether that means living independently, going to a transitional, or halfway, house, or living with a friend or other relative, help your loved one find the best, safest solution.

Supporting a loved one through treatment is an action. It does not simply mean waiting for it to be over and hoping for the best. For a better outcome, for a real recovery, and for a reduced risk of relapse after care, family should be actively involved when a loved one is in residential treatment. Be there to provide support through therapy participation, education, and taking care of your own emotional needs so you can be the best for the people you love.

Our Treatment Programs

Constellation Behavioral Health is proud to be a leader and innovator of mental health services. Our integrated, shared system of care ensures quality of care across all of our facilities, with a distinct focus on providing a robust differential diagnosis, cultivating personal agency, and working closely with families and healthcare providers to ensure the best chance for lasting recovery. Coordination and collaboration of staff across our different facilities contribute to consistency of quality and shared treatment philosophies.

Alta Mira Recovery Programs

Alta Mira Recovery Programs is a residential treatment center specializing in substance use disorders and complex co-occurring mental health issues.

BrightQuest Treatment Centers

Located in Nashville and San Diego, BrightQuest specializes in complex psychiatric conditions, providing compassionate care to a vastly underserved population.

Bridges to Recovery

Our Bridges to Recovery locations are designed for individuals struggling with mental health disorders who are seeking a safe alternative to hospitalization for their care.

> Alta Mira Recovery Programs

> BrightQuest Treatment Centers

> Bridges to Recovery