How Can Strategic Family Therapy Help Me and My Loved Ones?

There is no strict definition or set of characteristics for “a family.” A family can be young or old, big or small, blended, fostered, adopted, or adapted. A family can also be weak or strong, but sometimes it needs a guide to help family members identify their strengths and weaknesses, their current abilities, and areas that need improvement.

Strategic Family Therapy, or SFT, can help families get back on the road to a supportive and loving relationship.

What Is Strategic Family Therapy?

SFT combines the idea of a family as a unit and the belief that an outside advocate is needed to help draft a strategy the family can follow to achieve success. The strategic family therapist is not concerned with the origin of family dysfunction, but focuses instead on setting a concise goal with a well thought out plan that will lead to the conclusion of the problems.

You can think of a strategic family therapist as the coach of an athletic team or a foreman on a worksite. The athletes have the skills to win a game, construction workers know how to build a house, but without a leader with a clear game plan or blueprints, everyone just kind of bounces off of each other and hopes for the best.

Informal Steps In Strategic Family Therapy

Just as a family is dynamic, a strategic family therapy plan must be somewhat fluid and flexible. A therapist will consider the following steps:

  • Identify the family dynamic issues
  • Determine which problems are solvable through SFT
  • Set SFT goals
  • Develop a plan to meet strategic family therapy goals
  • Review progress
  • Evaluate the outcome

One of the key differences with strategic therapy is that the therapist takes the leading role. The SFT plan is set and “enforced” by the therapist. Family homework is assigned, sometimes employing paradoxical procedures which seem to be contrary to the goals, but in actuality, help to accomplish them.

Goals of Strategic Family Therapy

Your family will usually come to Brief Strategic Family Therapy with an idea of what you want to accomplish, but after identifying the family dynamics and dysfunctions, your therapist may set different goals. Some developments a therapist hopes you take away from the program are:

  • Less restrictive family interactions
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Ability to turn negative situations into positive solutions
  • Self-sustaining changes
  • Resolution of damaging behaviors/symptoms (substance abuse, depression, anxiety)

At Summit Malibu we understand that a family grows and changes organically, and because of this, the rules, beliefs, policies, and procedures, much like a workplace, must be reviewed and refined. Brief Strategic Family Therapy is that evaluation process.

Contact us today for more information about BSFT and our other successful mental health and substance abuse treatment programs.

Easing Anxiety and Depression Using Music Therapy

Music is everywhere. We listen to it at home, in our cars, and at work. Music travels well on devices, so we never have to be without it. Music is as varied as the flowers and as accessible as the air, so it is no wonder that it has long been considered therapeutic, both physically and emotionally.

The Power of Music

Plato believed that music was a good treatment for anxiety. Aristotle believed in its therapeutic properties. Since the dawn of time people have used sticks, rocks, body parts, and voices to make music to celebrate a successful hunt or to soothe a fussy child. Today, music continues to evolve and grow as a powerful internal communicator and mode of treatment for anxiety and depression.

The Stunning Effects of Music Therapy

Just listening to music can bring about incredible changes in your body and mind. Music can boost dopamine or distract you from discomfort. Oftentimes you will first “feel” music emotionally, then experience it cognitively, and finally physically. Whether the music is calming or invigorating to you (and it will be different for each person), music can physically:

  • Reduce fatigue
  • Boost endurance
  • Change your blood pressure
  • Change your heart rate
  • Give you energy

Psychologically music has been shown to help:

  • Lower anxiety
  • Relieve depression
  • Reduce chronic pain
  • Aid in heart disease through reduction of stress

Types of Music Therapy

Music therapy for anxiety and depression includes listening, but can also involve performing, improvising, or composing, with a group or individually. Music and movement are tremendously effective not only for elevating mood, but also for bringing about better physical health through exercise. Bringing out instruments for improvisation in a group setting can be joyous and fulfilling. Active Music Therapy, which consists of a patient communicating through singing or tapping, “offers the patient opportunities for new aesthetic, physical and relational experiences.” Composing music can be a creative outlet that is also a release of emotion that tells a story.

Music therapy for anxiety and depression can help you shift your focus from the negative to the positive. And music therapy is just one of many steps you can take in overcoming depression and anxiety. Contact us at Summit Malibu today for more information about all of our treatment programs and begin your healing journey.

Treating the Co-Occurrence of Mental Health and Substance Abuse

The symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders can be challenging to deal with. Sufferers often turn to drugs and alcohol to help numb the pain or pretend that the mental health issue isn’t there. Quite often, the more serious the disorder, the more severe the abuse.

Unfortunately, this creates a snowball effect wherein the substance amplifies the negative symptoms, and even more, the substance is necessary to temper the symptoms of the mental disorder. The fully integrated program at Summit Malibu can successfully handle a Dual Diagnosis/Co-Occurring Disorder.

The Link Between Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Approximately 50% of people with severe mental disorders also struggle with substance abuse. Each mental health issue has its own symptoms and treatment, and drug and alcohol abuse come with their own sets of problems. However, it is not effective to treat them separately. A dual diagnosis requires specialized treatment to manage co-occurring disorders.

Another thing to remember is that there is no cause and effect when it comes to mental health and substance abuse. While it may be easy to “blame” a disorder for a drug abuse problem, that is just exacerbating the core issue with denial.

The Treatment of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Duality

Summit Malibu takes a holistic approach to recovery, incorporating different programs and activities that most effectively treat the patient. In addition to one-on-one counseling, medical management, group sessions, and activities like yoga and art therapy, we employ addiction treatment modalities. Available therapies include:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing
  • Biofeedback
  • Alpha-Stim
  • Relapse Prevention Therapy
  • Brief Strategic Family Therapy

The Road to Recovery

You do not need to handle your mental health and substance abuse problems alone. Summit Malibu is here to help. Contact us for more information about our programs and treatment modalities, and start the journey on your road to recovery.

Effective Ways to Cope with Emotional and Mental Health Problems

When you are struggling with anxiety, depression, and a myriad of other mental health issues, you may feel out of control. Summit Malibu can help you with your disorder diagnosis, while also providing tips on coping with emotional and mental health problems. It is not about making the problems go away but learning how to react to them in a positive way.

Aim For Contentment

Sometimes the problem is that people set their mental health bar much too high, thinking that constant elation and happiness means you are well-adjusted and successful. Aim for contentment, that inner peace that tells you that you are in the right place at the right time. Simple abundance is the key to a contented life, and these 15 simple tips can help you achieve it.

    1. Identify your triggers – Understand the people, places, stimuli, events that set you off.
    2. Improve your communication skills – Practice how you respond to triggers.
    3. Refine your reactions – Don’t change you, change how you react.
    4. Take your time – Analyze a situation before you react.
    5. Practice mindfulness – Be in the moment.
    6. Develop stress management techniques – Make them second nature so you don’t even have to think about using them, they just come naturally.
    7. Avoid toxicity – Stay away from people and situations that are negative to you. It’s ok to be choosy; quality over quantity.
    8. Embrace gratitude – Every day be thankful for the little things—being able to tie your shoes, having food in your refrigerator, seeing the smile of a loved one.
    9. Find balance – Calculate what works best for you in work, play, love, and life.
    10. Review your life – Does it have meaning to you? If not, what needs to change?
    11. Roll with it – Be resilient and flexible and accept things as they are, not as you imagined they would be. Life throws curveballs.
    12. Be active – A healthy life can lead to contentment.
    13. Do Good – Volunteer, help a neighbor, perform random acts of kindness.
    14. Be creative – Draw, paint, color, write, bake, landscape—whatever it is, you are adding beauty to the world.
    15. Reflect, don’t ruminate – Consider a situation, determine the positive and the negative, make a plan of what you can do differently next time, and then move on.

These ideas will not make mental health disorders go away, but they may help you feel more balanced and prepared to handle challenging situations, leaving you less likely to spin into a negative state. They may be helpful in coping with emotional and mental health problems.

The treatment programs at Summit Malibu can help you plan a route to recovery that is customized to your needs. Please contact us today for more information about our beautiful facilities, programs, activities, staff, and any other questions you may have.

Fight Depression, Anxiety, and Addiction Before You Hit Rock Bottom

Depressed Girl Sitting in a Dark Room

The slippery slope on the way to hitting rock bottom is different for every person; some go quickly on a steep and slick slope, other substance abusers reach rock bottom more slowly on a steady even grade. And since there is no single definition of or level at which you hit rock bottom, how do you know you’re there?

Let’s talk about rock bottom, the anxiety, and depression that accompanies it, the hazards of the very concept, and addiction treatment available to prevent or raise you from it.

What Is Rock Bottom?

In a general sense, rock bottom is when you have reached your lowest point. Things can’t get any worse. Since we all have different tastes, desires, dreams, beliefs, and goals, rock bottom can vary greatly. A single word that best describes the main problem is “loss.” Most times rock bottom is the loss of:

  • Relationships
  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Transportation
  • Hobbies
  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Freedom

The Repetition of Rock Bottom

Too often in a substance abuser’s life, rock bottom is actually more like a rubber bottom. They hit a low spot, think it can’t get any worse. They work on recovery for a while, see some progress, but then lose their footing on that slippery slope once again. The next fall is even lower than the previous one.

Maddie, a recovering young woman, and contributor to the Our Young Addicts community, describes it best when she wrote, “On April 20th, 2012, I hit another bottom. It wasn’t the first bottom I had hit, and it wouldn’t be the last.”

Addiction Treatment

Do not aim for rock bottom before seeking medical advice and professional treatment. Rock bottom is not a benchmark you must reach before entering a program. That is the devastating consequence of the entire concept of rock bottom.

If at any time you are thinking you may have a problem or that you need help, you do. Seek help immediately. The longer you wait, the more physical, emotional, and mental damage will be done to yourself and others, and the rougher the road to recovery.

Contact us at Summit Malibu to start your journey of addiction treatment and get on the path to a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life. Our treatment programs are designed to meet the individual needs of each patient. We can help you come back up from rock bottom