How Can the Family System Inform Individualized Treatment?

Family therapist with mom and daughter

Individualized treatment has become more widespread than ever before, as researchers have found that each person’s unique history, experiences, and background contribute to their needs in recovery. Whether you’re attending treatment for a mental illness or addiction, your family dynamic can provide a lot of information to your healthcare team. When a therapist asks you questions regarding your family, this gives them insight into how you were raised and what problems you may have endured when you were younger. Most of us carry the weight of these issues far into adulthood, affecting our mental health and potentially factoring in as a cause of our substance abuse.

Family systems theory was coined by American psychiatrist Dr. Murray Bowen and is based on the idea that a person is always connected to their relationships; they cannot be looked at individually without exploring the dynamic of their relationships and how they fit into a larger, complex system that serves as an emotional unit. According to Dr. Bowen, changes of behavior in one family member are likely to have an influence on everyone else in the family. The theory further suggests that as boundaries of a family system tend to change, roles within the family must change to maintain the family’s stability. If a family refuses to change their pattern of behavior, dysfunction may occur.

Family doesn’t always mean “mother” or “father” – family is often made up of traditional families such as couples, single parents, adoptive families, foster relationships, grandparents raising children and stepfamilies, extended families such as grandparents, uncles, cousins, etc., and elected families such as godparents, friends, etc. The way in which you relate and communicate with these various systems says a lot about you and how you experience life. From this, a treatment center can explore what your needs are and what type of treatment would be best for you.

Family systems are a major informant of what you need for treatment, but this is not the only factor. Your mental health and substance use history, genetics, biology, abuse history, personality, behavioral patterns and more can provide a lot of information as well.

Avalon Malibu is a world-renowned, California state-licensed mental health and substance abuse recovery center. If you are ready to seek treatment to develop the tools you need to overcome life’s obstacles and be on the road towards happiness, health, and well-being, call us today at 888-958-7511 for a consultation. It’s never too late, and there are people here ready to help you.



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