When attempting to engage the family, the counselor may be confronted with various barriers. One that is commonly seen is the family and the workplace’s tendency toward homeostasis. So when the addicted person stops using, everyone’s structure is challenged. The family members seem to effectively destabilize as a side effect of the client’s treatment. For this reason, I try to engage the family right from the start. In doing so, the family system is strengthened and evolves along with the client and begins to reconsider if the roles assumed by each person in the family are still providing the benefits they historically did.
Realize here that several challenges for the addiction family interventionist exist. For instance, when the counselor is perceived as a threat to other providers, partners, or other loves. Further, family and substance use counselors’ agendas may be similar, while the approaches may be polarized. Also, the lack of research and clearly-defined practices are not aligned with specific cultural populations. With this disparity, the family may see the counselor as a threat. Simultaneously, the counselor may perceive cultural preferences as resistance; the challenge arising from lack of cultural representation in small agencies is tough. For example, CCW clients are very diverse. However, there simply is not enough business to meet such needs as they change weekly.
The important thing is this. We want to understand the clients we serve and their families. While certain recovery concepts are universal, we respect many paths to recovery. Universally, however, people do not recover in a vacuum and need to learn to integrate recovery into their family lives. Family involvement from the start of treatment helps that to occur.