Family Therapy

Our Treatment Approach

When an individual is suffering with bipolar disorder, depression, trauma, or anxiety, it affects the entire family system. Here at Pathlight, we understand these important realities, and we view families as true partners in our patients’ recovery and healing. This important component of treatment has been shown to improve long-term recovery from mood and anxiety disorders.
Families respond in a variety of ways when a loved one is ill. Some family members hide their pain, sadness and frustration. They believe that sharing their thoughts and feelings may challenge their loved one’s recovery progress. Some well-meaning family members may try to “fix” their loved one’s illness, while others do nothing — having never been given the information, tools and support to help.

What is family therapy?

We recognize that being involved in the treatment process, especially in the beginning, can feel vulnerable and uncomfortable for many individuals. A family-based treatment model is such a necessary component to treatment that we require parents (or surrogate others) to participate in our child/adolescent treatment programs. By engaging and supporting families in treatment, we can address family dynamics, communication patterns, stressors within the family and other experiences.
Pathlight’s compassionate therapists help families navigate their worry, anxiety and insecurity to cultivate deeper connections within the family relationships and to support lasting recovery moving forward. In family therapy, patients are encouraged to share the skills they are learning and practice them with their families.
Pathlight uses two primary tools to support and engage families in treatment: Family psychoeducation and family therapy.

  • Family psychoeducation is an evidence-based approach providing information and support for families to better understand and cope with a loved one’s illness. Despite months, years or decades of experience with their loved one’s mood or anxiety disorder, families often don’t understand the diagnosis and how it affects the family system. We believe it is incredibly important to teach patients and families about these important dynamics in a supportive, empathetic environment.
  • Multifamily education groups are offered to support and empower parents, caregivers and other family members in their important recovery roles. Led by family therapists, these sessions offer opportunities to practice new skills to manage distress, as well as gain support from others facing similar challenges having a loved one with mental health concerns.
  • Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy focusing on improving communication and teaching skills to help the family system heal from the effects of serious mental illness. The family therapist fosters a safe space for listening and dialogue — encouraging openness, empathy and validation. Families also learn and practice skills for improving communication and resolving conflict using principles of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and other evidence-based therapies. The frequency of family therapy at Pathlight will depend on the patient’s age, level of care and the unique recovery needs of the family.
  • Emotion Focused Family Therapy (EFFT) empowers parents and guardians to become effective emotional coaches to help their children through the treatment process, incorporating behavior coaching, emotion coaching and skills training.

Family Days Programming

Pathlight’s innovative Family Days program combines psychoeducation and family therapy to support family engagement in treatment. Pathlight’s top leadership and experts are present at Family Days and share their deep knowledge and support with attendees — providing cutting-edge information about topics such as personality and temperament, nutrition, medical consequences, and the process of recovery. Held once per month, Family Days offers one to two days of education, support and skills training to help families learn how to effectively support their loved one’s recovery. Families are encouraged to attend monthly Family Days while their loved one is in treatment, and they are invited to return and attend Family Days even after their loved one has discharged from Pathlight. 
Pathlight’s mental health experts are committed to empowering families to make long-lasting changes to their patterns of interaction, so they are able to thrive together.