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Why Does My Therapist Ask me About My Family?

Addiction, like any health condition, is a personal issue. People don’t like to shout their struggles from the rooftops in any occasion, but especially when it comes to addiction because of the long term stigma once attached to it. Therefore, it is completely common for a person to begin treatment with his guard up. It can be difficult to let others in despite how good their intentions are. All that being said, it is necessary to allow treatment professionals and support networks in so that they can help. This may take time to get comfortable with and it also will require the development of trust.

What these internal struggles can affect is the overall treatment process. Most individuals in treatment and recovery will require some form of counseling or therapy. Just having to discuss struggles related to addiction can be a challenge at first, but some people are especially put off or uncomfortable when they are asked to talk about other personal matters, such as their family or other relationships. One may wonder why these issues are relevant; how does one’s family life play into their addiction recovery?

Why Does My Therapist Ask me About My Family?

It is very common for a therapist to ask about a patient’s family or other personal issues during therapy

When a therapist asks questions about one’s family, he or she is doing so because it is the therapist’s job to discover the underlying causes of addiction, and often dysfunctional family relationships have contributed to the addiction’s development. An understanding of the patient’s family relationships will allow the therapist to establish the most effective tools and skills for maintaining a long and stable life in recovery.[1] This information is relevant because family and home life dictate a person’s core relationships and lifestyle, so they have an important impact on the person’s life. These personal issues will have an impact on the addiction and recovery process.

Addiction is known as a family disease, and for good reason. Family members can play a causal role in the development of addiction and they can also play an enabling role. When family members do not provide healthy, supportive relationships for the addict they can bring about stress and other risk factors for a relapse. Having a family who is well-educated on addiction will strengthen the overall family unity and provide a foundation for optimal support for good health and wellness.[2]

So both healthy and unhealthy family dynamics will play a crucial role in one’s addiction treatment and recovery process. A therapist needs his patient to see when her family or other personal life issues are triggering any addictive behaviors. He has to point out and find solutions for unhealthy, toxic relationships and make certain that the patient is equipped with the tools and resources needed to maintain a life in recovery. Simply put, a patient cannot expect to stay sober when she returns to a life and lifestyle that drove her to addiction in the first place. Addiction is not about putting a bandage over a giant wound, it is about treating the root cause of the wound and taking all efforts to prevent damage in the future.

What Can Therapy Do for Your Life in Recovery?

Getting personal during therapy and counseling is going to offer many benefits to someone venturing into a life of recovery. Psychologist, Marian Margulies who participates in psychoanalysis at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education at the NYU Medical Center has explained the following benefits of talk therapy in a 2014 article by published by Forbes.[3]

  • First and foremost, she explains that the effects of therapy are “long-lasting.” This is due to the ability to address the root causes of the issues at-hand, but also because a person is developing tools to deal with difficulties in the future; a great way to prevent relapse.
  • Therapy can treat physical symptoms that can prompt relapse triggers. Therapy can be a great way to address and release the stressors and anxieties that cause physical ailments. Research has proven that many physical pain symptoms can be alleviated through the treatment of mental health issues.
  • Therapy will dig into repressed emotions. People who think that they can overcome addiction issues without exploring and expressing the traumas and stressors in their lives are going to find that these issues will come up eventually. Repressing negative emotions and thoughts will not make them go away, they will only delay them. Therapy helps people identify and process these traumas, stressors and emotions.
  • Therapy can eliminate passive-aggressive behavior. People may be very surprised at how deeply a past trauma or issue can affect them; how long they will hold onto things like anger, resentment and hurt. If these things are not explored or addressed during therapy, they will be carried into recovery and can impact one’s entire attitude, thought process and perspective on life.
  • Talking about family and other issues in therapy can help people strengthen these things. Individuals can learn skills for maintaining healthier relationships and lifestyle habits. They can also receive family or relationship therapy to reconcile valuable relationships for life in recovery.
  • Having a therapist can eventually feel nice and comforting as the patient knows she is not alone with her thoughts and feelings. She has someone available to listen, support and provide empathy, guidance and solutions.
  • Therapy is a learning process. The more people engage and actively participate in therapy, the more they can see that they are learning about themselves, their relationships and the world around them.

Are You Looking for a Therapist or Counselor During Your Recovery?

If you are in, or are preparing for a life in recovery, we can help you learn more about your options for counseling or therapy. It is significant that you find a therapist or counselor that specializes in your needs, and one that you feel comfortable and safe with. To learn more about the benefits of therapy, what it entails, or if you are ready to look for a therapist or counselor for your recovery, we can help. Call our toll-free, 24-hour helpline and speak with a recovery professional today.


[1] (2014 February, 11). What Will I Talk About In Addiction Counseling? Destination Hope. Retrieved from

[2] (2016 February 24). Family Disease. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. Retrieved from

[3] Walton, Alice G. (2014, June 3). 11 Intriguing Reasons to Give Talk Therapy a Try. Forbes Pharma and Healthcare. Retrieved from