Structural Family Therapy for Multi-Stressed Families with Substance Abuse and Grandparents Raising Grandchildren

Structural Family Therapy

 

What is a family?

 

  • Extended families – they include grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins etc.

Challenges of Grandparents raising grandchildren

 

  • Financial inadequacies – limited financial resources which make it difficult grandparents to cater for the needs of their grandchildren. Often, they have limited sources of income and rely on pension and savings from their youth. This is inadequate to provide for food, shelter, housing, and clothing for their grandchildren.
  • Physical Health – because of age, grandparents have limited energy and health problems that make it strenuous to raise multi-stressed children, which is physically exhausting.
  • Mental Health – Grandparents also suffer from mental health because of age related issues compared to the general population.
  •  Time – Tasked with the duty of raising grandchildren, grandparents have less time for themselves and for relaxing. This further makes them stressed and filled with anger and grief.

Family Therapy Models

The Family Systems Model – this model is founded on the belief families tend to arrange themselves around interactions substance abuse. This method focuses on how to build healthier organizational patterns in a family unit. For example, if a member of the family is encouraged to continue abusing drugs because it makes them more productive, then therapy is directed towards ensuring the family is corrected of this maladaptive behavior.

The family disease model – This model is based on the concept that addiction is a disease that affects the whole family. Family members that aren’t abusers may develop co-dependence, which will, in turn, cause them to enable the addict. This approach is geared towards modification of behavior and environment.

 

Cognitive Behavioral Family Therapy – this approach focuses on how to improve family relationships and to promote sobriety by correcting the disruptive behavior that leads to addiction. Family members are taught how to identify triggers of the substance abuser and how to handle these triggers.

Postmodern approaches – postmodern approaches are based on constructivist and social constructionist views on the subjective experience of reality. Moreover, therapeutic objectives are influenced by both family and therapist beliefs about healthy functioning (Walsh, 2012).

 

Benefits of family therapy for Substance Abuse

  • Improving communication – family therapy will aid in better communication especially in cases where there isn’t communication.
  • Awareness – Family therapy in substance abuse treatment helps families become aware of their own needs. A clearer understanding of the addiction and how it affects behavior – this is done via education from a therapist.
  • Setting boundaries – setting boundaries is an important aspect towards health recovery. In extreme instances, this may include detaching from a member who is a substance abuser.
  • Trust – members with substance abuse are usually dishonest because of shame and financial implications. With improved communication, honest interaction and positive change, members of a family gain trust.

substance abuse.

  • Cost benefit – The cost for family therapy can be economical and social. It is cheaper for a family to get a therapist for a family is cheaper that treatment costs for substance abuse. Family therapy also helps in preventative measures i.e. helps members of a family not get stringed along into substance abuse, which will then lead to cost saving.

Impact of substance abuse on families

 

  • Negativity – communication between family members, is usually critical and filled with anger and displeasure. The mood of the household is generally low, and communication is achieved by bringing up a crisis.
  • Anger – member that suffer from substance abuse have built up anger and most often, they express this anger to the wrong person. Communication with such individuals become difficult.
  • Inconsistency – parents that suffer from substance abuse usually set unrealistic rules that govern their household. Substance abusing parents often do not follow these rules and end up bringing up inconsistencies.

Approaches to family therapy in substance abuse

 

Impact of grandparents raising children is substance abuse

 

– most grandparents have small houses that have limited space for the upbringing of children. Children of different ages and gender are forced to share rooms, beds and sleeping material.  Grandchildren raised by grandparents are at a higher risk of bullying at school. This has the potential of impacting negatively on the child’s education and emotional stability. Most of the grandparents taking care of children are also highly involved with supporting the substance abuser. This impacts on the wider family, children also feel neglected, unwanted and build up feelings of resent towards their parents. Substance abuse and domestic violence also go hand in hand. This further alienates the children from their parents. These factors tend to impact negatively on the upbringing of a child. Grandparents  point out that they save the country a lot of money by taking in their grandchildren because if they didn’t, the children would become the problem of the state. They, therefore, request the government to aid in their financial situation by subsidies and support services. Grandchildren   of substance abuse are at a higher risk to drug and alcohol use, and when not yet present, grandparents have reported worries over the potential for future use.

Raising growing children leads to heightened physical and emotional demands. Grandparents often suffer from health issues related to age and are unable to cope with the situation. Familial drug abuse also poses risks to health, e.g., blood borne viruses and violence, and this is particularly problematic when grandparents are disabled or raising a disabled child.

Although grandparents raising children to deal with negative impacts, grandparents report a sense of pride in bringing up their grandchildren.  The build relationships with the children and further connect emotionally and feel very proud when the children excel in their lives and studies. On     the positive side, grandparents have had experience raising children, therefore, they know how to handle their grandchildren. This helps them understand complex situations and know how to manage the said situations without getting out of hand. Grandparents       can join support groups where they meet with other grandparents with similar circumstances. The support group meetings are confidential and help the grandparents on how to cope with multi-stressed children. Sharing issues helps one learn from other people’s experiences which in turn helps in making better decisions while raising multi-stressed families. There are also groups for children whose parents are substance abusers. This helps the children interact with other children that are going through the same situation. This makes the children know that they are not alone. The Children of Alcoholics Foundation (COAF) also has resources online that can help grandparents with raising children whose parents are addicted.

Conclusion

This paper provides an overview of how structural

References

Mensah, E., & Andreadi, H. (2016). Multi-family Group Therapy. Clinical Practice at the Edge of Care,175-196. Doi:10.1007/978-3-319-43570-1_9

Reiter, M. D. (2016). A Quick Guide to Case Conceptualization in Structural Family Therapy. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 35(2), 25-37. doi:10.1521/jsyt.2016.35.2.25

Sprang. G., Choi, M., Eslinger, J., & Whitt-Woosley, A. (2014). Grandparents as Parents: Investigating the Health and Well-Being of Trauma-Exposed Families, Lexington, KY: University of Kentucky Center on Trauma and Children.

Walsh, F. (n.d.). Family Therapy Systemic Approaches to Practice. Essentials of Clinical Social Work,160-185. doi:10.4135/9781483398266.n7

 

 

 

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