When it comes to addiction, the impact of the disease goes way beyond just the person who is suffering from addiction. Those close to the addict can be negatively impacted, as well, including friends, family, colleagues, and the person’s spouse or partner.
Even if the person has admitted that they have a problem and are in the process of getting help, it doesn’t change all the negative things that happened before treatment and the impact it had on the relationship with their spouse or partner. During the worst part of the addiction, chances are that there was:
- Possible abuse
All of these issues need to be addressed, and things like therapy for couples, as well as Al-Anon and other forms of therapy for the spouse of the addict, are vital when it comes to helping repair the relationship. Not only must the trust be rebuilt, but other issues that arose as a result of addiction need to be addressed in a healthy way in order to truly move on and work on repairing the relationship.
On this page, we will take a look at some of the things that can be done to help repair these relationships and talk about ways in which both you and your partner can move on from the past and look to a future filled with happiness and sobriety. Keep reading to learn more about therapy for couples and see how it can help you and your spouse or partner.
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What Is Therapy for Couples?
Chances are, even if you have not attended it yourself, you are at least aware of what couples therapy is. Maybe you know someone who has gone to couples therapy or you have read or heard about it in the media or on TV. What you might not know (unless you have attended it yourself) is what exactly it entails.
Couples therapy is a type of psychotherapy that is attended by both members of the couple at the same time. During couples therapy, the couple will meet together with the same psychologist and recognize and attempt to resolve any and all conflicts. These conflicts could relate to addiction or even just everyday issues going on in their lives. While it is sometimes referred to as marriage counseling, you don’t need to be married to go to it.
Couples therapy is offered for both short- and long-term issues. While short-term therapy might be ideal for those dealing with smaller issues, couples dealing with major relationship issues, such as substance abuse and addiction, might need long-term counseling in order to work out all the issues.
What Is the Biggest Benefit of Marriage and Addiction Counseling?
One of the biggest reasons people attend couples therapy is the safe environment it provides. Let’s face it: Arguments between couples can sometimes get volatile. Unfortunately, there are times when they can even get violent, especially if someone who is suffering from substance abuse is involved. By attending couples therapy, it allows both parties to say what they want in a safe and nonjudgmental space.
Plus, there is a therapist there to help keep any sort of argument or disagreement from getting out of hand. Since the therapist is trained in couples therapy, they have techniques that they can use to help de-escalate the situation if things get out of control.
This is particularly useful when dealing with substance abuse or addiction as it relates to couples counseling. Addiction and substance abuse can lead to a lot of anger and resentment from both parties. For the spouse of the addict, they may feel:
- Lied to
- Pent-up anger
- Resentment toward spouse
On the other hand, the person who is or was suffering from addiction likely feels feelings of shame and remorse for how they behaved while they were using. It might be difficult for them to properly process these feelings and, as a result, they might feel the need to lash out. Being in an environment like couples therapy allows both parties to get everything off their chests in a safe and productive manner. It is often the first step in healing the relationship and understanding the other person’s perspective.
Are There Times When Couples Therapy Is Not Beneficial?
For the most part, couples therapy has been proven to be useful and effective for people who need help mediating conversations with their partners. Unfortunately, however, there are some situations where it is not recommended to try therapy for couples. If there is a court-ordered restraining order for one of the parties, then they should not attend couples therapy until that order has been lifted. Additionally, if there has been any type of severe domestic violence or abuse within the relationship in the recent past, or if one or both parties feel that couples therapy could lead to violence or abuse, it might be best to avoid therapy.
My Spouse Is an Addict — Is There Anything I Can Do Other Than Couples Counseling?
If you are the spouse of someone who is suffering from addiction, your health and well-being are just as important as theirs. Unfortunately, though, most of the attention is usually focused on the addict and not the spouse of the addict.
The good news is that, in addition to couples therapy, there are other ways that you can get the help that you need to better understand what you are going through.
In the same way that people suffering from addiction have support groups as a resource, such as AA, NA, or other types of 12-step programs, family members of addicts also have support groups available to them, including spouses. Al-Anon is a support group specifically designed for the family members and loved ones of an addict.
Al-Anon works much in the same way that AA does, with the main difference being that the people in attendance aren’t necessarily addicts themselves but instead family members of one.
Al-Anon allows those in attendance to work through their issues as a result of their addicted partner in a healthy and supportive space surrounded by others who might be dealing with similar issues as them. Just like for an addict in AA, a spouse of an addict attending Al-Anon can be a great way to build a support system around them of people who know what they are going through because the other people around them are also dealing with similar issues and experiences.
Therapy is a major component of addiction treatment because it allows the person suffering from addiction to work through their issues in a safe way and helps them learn more about how they got addicted in the first place so they can better prevent it from happening in the future. Individual counseling can also be beneficial for the spouse of the addict, as well. While Al-Anon is great, there are likely things that people don’t want to share in group settings.
For those more sensitive topics, or for topics that are more unique to them and their situation, individual counseling provides that one-on-one space to address these issues in a safe and comfortable way.
When children are involved with addiction in a household, it can add another layer of issues. This is especially true if there was any sort of domestic violence or abuse, whether it was physical or emotional, that the children were exposed to. In situations like that, the spouse of the addict might find it beneficial to see a family therapist for both them and their children.
Family therapy allows all the members of the family to see the same therapist and discuss their issues either one-on-one or together. It’s important for children to understand what is going on and how they are feeling, and family therapy can be a great way to do just that.
Are You in Need of Therapy for Couples?
While addressing the issue of addiction and getting help for the person who is suffering from addiction is crucial for the recovery process, it’s important not to ignore the people whom the addict might have adversely affected, such as their spouse or partner. Getting their partner the help that they need can help repair a damaged relationship as a result of addiction and can also help said partner avoid turning to drugs or alcohol and possibly suffering from addiction, as well.
At Harmony Place, we understand that providing help for the spouse or partner of an addict is just as important as providing help for the addict themselves. That’s why, in addition to the treatment options that we offer for people suffering from addiction, we also offer treatment and therapies for their loved ones.
If you or someone you know is either suffering from addiction or is the spouse of an addict and could benefit from therapy for couples, contact us today.