Complimentary Support Group for Families: What it Is and How to Join

Each week, we hold a virtual, Ethos-wide support group for family members of both current and former clients—at no cost. When a loved one is struggling with mental illness or addiction, we know that family members are also impacted. Simultaneously, studies show that the family system is vital to the process of healing and recovery. Part of our commitment to continuity of care means providing support for the family in addition to the client.

Tad Bodeman, a long-time Ethos team member and one of four master’s-level facilitators of our family support group, sat down to chat with us about the family connection, as well as what family members can gain from joining this complimentary meeting.

Q: Can you start by telling us why this free support group for families was created?

A: It’s really an incredible and important addition to our continuum of care. When a loved one is struggling with mental illness or addiction, we know very clearly from the research, and from our work, that family members are also impacted by this. In a family, it’s so common that all of our attention and energy becomes focused on the loved one that’s struggling. We also know that within the family system, we all have an impact on each other’s well-being. Part of our commitment to integrative, long-term healing is providing this family support group to help members become better equipped to understand and heal themselves; as a result, they are able to contribute to a more helpful relationship with their loved one. 

Q: What does a typical group session look like?

A: Each Tuesday evening, our family group is facilitated by four licensed therapists. We meet via Zoom and begin, as a large group, with one of our therapists presenting a psychoeducation topic that is relevant to families dealing with mental illness or addiction. These topics include content that the families’ loved ones are also learning in our system of care. They are selected to help family members learn how to heal, improve their own wellbeing and develop a greater understanding of mental illness and/or addiction, as well as its effects on the family. 

After this, we break up into smaller support groups facilitated by individual therapists, where family members are more able to discuss their joys, fears, successes, setbacks and more. This gives participants the chance to care for each other, learn from each other, hold space for each other, and simply feel safe and connected; to have a place where they can share freely among others who understand and are going through it themselves.

Q: Why should family members consider joining?

A: None of us come equipped to deal with addiction or mental illness. This group is focused on learning, relationships and well-being, as well as helping give members the tools, knowledge and support needed to be better equipped for the difficulties that families face when dealing with mental illness and addiction.

Q: How is the family affected by a loved one’s struggle with mental health and/or substance use?

A: A foundational part of the human experience is our relationships. We are interconnected and interdependent, and we affect each other at an emotional, mental and physical level. Those connections, and our ability to impact each other, are a crucial part of family healing. With the right support, we can find our pathway towards better and improved wellbeing, both individually and together.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to a family member with a loved one struggling?

A: It is important to get better equipped to personally deal with what’s happening in your family, and the impact it’s having on you. It’s helpful to find people outside of your family unit to share with and learn from. That’s why we’ve made a commitment to provide free support for families of clients that are or have been in our system of care.

Q: How can family members join the group?

A: To learn more or join the group, you should email or contact the care team member you are most used to communicating with regarding your loved one’s treatment. Whether your loved one is a current or previous client, they will send you the information to join our Zoom meeting each week at no cost. We look forward to having you!

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