Does Family Behavioral Therapy Really Work?

Addictions Content Team Info icon
Calendar icon Last Updated: 09/16/2021

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Family behavioral therapy (FBT) does work, and it can provide many benefits to your family when it comes to discovering and changing problematic behavior that can lead to addiction as well as other issues.

Helping the Whole Family

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “FBT, which has demonstrated positive results in both adults and adolescents, is aimed at addressing not only substance use problems but other co-occurring problems as well, such as:”

  • Conduct disorders
  • Child mistreatment
  • Depression and other comorbid disorders
  • Lying and secretive behavior
  • Family conflict
  • Unemployment
  • Financial problems
Family Behavioral Therapy

FBT can help rebuild trust.

The program is meant to help all members of the family take steps toward better behavior that is more beneficial for everyone, not just the addicted individual. In each session, behaviors are addressed and examined and family members discuss whether or not they met the goals previously set by one another and the counselor. If they were, rewards are often given.

In addition, issues among family members can be discussed and steps can be taken toward healing. While this is usually much more difficult when just attempting to talk between the members of the family, a counselor can steer the conversation in a way that avoids contention and a possible blow-up, leading to real communication that does not simply cause hurt feelings and fighting.

Teaching Better Behaviors

As previously stated, not all the better behaviors learned in FBT are geared toward the addicted individual. According to the University of Pennsylvania Health System, “Enabling behaviors are those behaviors that support our addicted loved one’s chemical use,” which family members need to learn to recognize and avoid.

Each individual usually falls into their own category of enabling behavior, but once they are able to realize this, true change can begin to occur. In addition, addicts learn better behaviors and can show their hard work to their family members when everyone comes together for therapy.

Rebuilding Trust

One of the most significant issues for the loved ones of an addict is being able to trust that individual again. FBT can help rebuild that trust between loved ones and make it easier for everyone to create a better, healthier relationship with one another. Addicts will be able to understand the consequences of their lies in the words of those they love, and counselors can also help family members begin to forgive.

FBT––and Addiction Rehab––Work

While it can be hard to see your loved one go to addiction rehab, or to be the one going into treatment yourself, FBT can help create real change in the way your family communicates and in your treatment of one another.

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