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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a diagnosable mental health condition and is listed under the new category called Trauma- and Stressor- Related Disorders.

PTSD is characterized by “intrusive thoughts, nightmares, and flashbacks of past traumatic events, avoidance of reminders of trauma, hypervigilance, and sleep disturbance, all of which lead to considerable social, occupational, and interpersonal dysfunction.” According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 10 percent of women and five percent of men are likely to experience PTSD at some point in their lifetimes.

As concisely stated by the University of Michigan, “when someone has post-traumatic stress disorder, it changes family life.” There is a common misconception that family therapy is only considered as such when the therapy session occurs with every member of a family of origin present. However, it is considered family therapy when two or more members of a family unit engage in psychotherapy sessions together. The term, the family also has a broader definition for the purposes of family therapy. As Laney Cline King (LCSW) asserts that family as “defined by the modern family therapist is anyone who plays a long-term supportive role in one’s life, which may not mean blood relations or family members in the same household.” Although a family member’s PTSD may have been the precipitating issue that pushed a family to participate in family therapy, the therapeutic process is driven by family systems theory. 

Family systems theory is explained as “a theory of human behavior that defines the family unit as a complex social system, in which members interact to influence each other’s behavior.” Family therapy relies on family systems theory to evaluate family members in terms of their position or role within the family and how it affects the overall dynamic. In family therapy, issues are treated by addressing and shifting the way the entire family system functions. During family therapy, each member can share their perspective regarding how a problem is affecting the family. Family therapy can help family members understand and cope with PTSD as well as reduce distress and conflict by improving the systems of interactions between family members.

Further Information and Support

Navigating the challenges that arise from living with mental illness, struggling with substance abuse, and/ or addiction can not only be all-consuming but are often impossible to effectively handle without proper support. If you are concerned for yourself or a loved one regarding mental illness, substance abuse, and/ or addiction we recommend reaching out for help as soon as possible. Bear in mind that you do not have to be on this journey alone. At {Upwell Advisors}, we offer unique, customized concierge therapeutic services to provide our clients with unparalleled support throughout every step of the recovery process. 

Feel free to reach to contact us anytime via email at sean@upwelladvisors.com. We look forward to supporting you on your journey.

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