PLEASE JOIN OUR INTENSIVE FAMILY WEEKEND:
All supportive friends and families are encouraged to attend this family workshop that is held once a month. We welcome the involvement of biological relatives as well as nontraditional families; if you’re a vital member of the client’s circle of support, we encourage you to take part in the family program.
We all understand that caring for someone with an illness can take a toll on the friends and family, so this weekend is about the healing of those relationships. In this intensive workshop, we come together to heal the wounds that keep us from thriving in life, both individually and as families. The experience brings understanding, acceptance and forgiveness to participants.
In families dealing with addiction, eating disorders and/or mental illness, honest communication breaks down as loved ones struggle to cope with the pain of the disease. Friends and family members stop having open dialogue and listening to one another, often walking on eggshells and keeping secrets in an effort to shield themselves from further damage. Eventually everyone involved is drawn into a downward spiral of dysfunctional patterns that erode trust and prevent healing.
Through educational presentations and experiential sessions, participants learn about the co-occurring nature of these illnesses, and the importance of integrated treatment. Some of the topics we discuss are families in crisis and families in recovery, how to support a loved one in recovery or still struggling, setting realistic goals and expectations after treatment, and how to identify and prevent relapse.
In a safe and nurturing environment, participants learn more effective ways of communicating, expressing their feelings and speaking their truth. They learn how to talk so that each individual is honored and how to listen without judgment.
Our participants report that the family program is a major milestone in their recovery journey. They’re delighted to re-establish an intimate bond with their loved ones as they take the first bold steps in communicating with one another. In addition to renewed hope, many observe remarkable progress in recovery as they engage their new found skills to continue on the path of healing.
We extend an invitation to your family and loved one in treatment to join our upcoming Family Weekend. This three-day family intensive brings together several families and their loved one who is or has been in treatment for addiction, eating disorders, and/or co-occurring disorders. We gently guide members toward new ways of thinking about themselves in the family, to open understanding and communication, and examine healthy ways of relating and interacting.
The Weekend facilitator is Nancy Swanson, LMFT.
There is no cost for the program. The Friday to Sunday format incorporates a variety of interactive and instructional learning methods. We ask that you and your loved one please make a commitment to attend the entire weekend.
The goal is to improve family communication. Our intention is for family members to leave the Weekend focused on ways to shift away from old patterns towards open, honest communication, and to discover ways to create a new family “story”.
The schedule is as follows:
For families traveling from out of town, you will need to make your own arrangements for accommodations. If you would like hotel suggestions, call Jose who can provide you a list of nearby hotels in the area.
What Do I Need to Do to Participate?
- We come together with one goal – to be open and honest.
- We ask that you speak your truth, bring your willingness to actively listen to another person’s ?truth and be open to the idea that family members may experience the same event or incident ?in a totally differently manner.
- Plan on dressing casually. It is best to wear layered clothing, as the temperatures can be unpredictable at this time of the year. The Weekend requires your attention and participation and you should make provisions for your comfort. Feel free to bring a pillow and blanket, or anything that will bring you comfort.
- We ask that you refrain from consuming alcohol or any mind-altering substance during this weekend. Your contributions to the group are grounded in your emotional, physical and mental clarity.
- Please leave your electronic devices and personal items locked in your room or car during sessions, including cellphones, laptops, iPads, iPods, purses and wallets (money).
Who Should Attend?
The Weekend is designed for family members of clients who are receiving or have received treatment from Launch Centers, and the client who is in or who has attended treatment. The client decides who to invite to Family Weekend. And they determine their definition of “family”. Parents (married or divorced), spouses, partners, siblings 12 years old or older, and grandparents are all strongly encouraged and welcomed. Also members of the extended family : significant others, friends, others in the “circle of support”: are all welcome to participate.
Common situations facing families who will benefit:
- Parents or partners held hostage by addiction, eating disorder, or mental illness, or failure to launch in a teen or adult child.
- Couples driven apart by addiction or compulsion in the other or in a loved one
- Siblings who have felt invisible and lost in the background as another child in the family ?struggles with addiction, compulsion or long-term illness
- Extended family – grandparents or step-parents and step-siblings whose quality of life has ?been affected by addiction and mental illness.
What Will We Do?
During the Weekend, your family will move towards open communication and wellness. Family members and their loved ones in treatment frequently come to the Weekend with mixed feelings, ranging from resentment, frustration, numbness, overburden, or anger usually matched with a keen desire for solutions and relief. Participants are encouraged to bring all their emotional and practical experience for the group to take up, understand, and use. The work combines teaching/training methods and experiential work to highlight understanding. There is generally considerable humor and camaraderie which helps the group tackle its serious work.
Participants will be supported to:
- Recognize that they are not alone. Addiction, eating disorders, and mental illness thrives in isolation and secrecy. Meet and learn from other participants.
- Examine current family communications and behaviors
- Shift the family system toward wellness and hope for all members
- Learn to set limits in a way that feels personally acceptable and supports the necessary recovery efforts of all family members
- Remove obstacles to closeness
- Launch an effort to rebuild trust and healthy inter-dependence.
Is there anything I need to do to get ready for the Family Weekend?
To make this the most memorable experience, come prepared.
On the next few pages are instructions for homework assignments to be completed prior to your arrival. PLEASE READ CAREFULLY and complete these assignments before your arrive.
SEND FAMILY PHOTOS
Please send up to twenty (20) photographs of your loved one that we will use for a special presentation Friday night. Your pictures will be returned to you when you come for the weekend. Include childhood pictures (under age of ten), pictures of them with other family members, include a few deceased loved ones, include happy times and not so happy times.
Send scanned photos directly to: email@example.com
TIPS FOR WRITTEN ASSIGNMENTS:
Be as candid and honest as possible. Do not “sugar-coat,” edit, or “water down” your?responses. Authenticity and getting in touch with your experience is key. This is a safe opportunity to speak your truth.
Use “I” statements” such as “I feel….” versus “You make me feel…” Refrain from using the words “always” and “never.” However, this is not about dumping old resentments or heavy confrontation…this is about speaking your truth.
Words are powerful: Words can heal or hurt. Words can be used as a weapon or used as a bridge to understanding. Be honest but please remember to temper your words with kindness…
WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT #1: IMPACT LETTERS
Each participant or family member must write a one-page Impact Letter using this three-part format:
Section One: Message of Love
- This may be the most important part of the letter. First begin with a message of love, speaking from your heart.
- Tell your loved one why you love them. List the special qualities they possess, the things you miss about them. Be specific, and speak with love first.
- It may be helpful to use the “Who, What, Where, When, How and Why” rule used by journalists. Access your memories, give details about where you were, when it happened, and how you felt.
Section Two: The Impact
- This second section of the letter addresses drug and alcohol use, the eating disorder, and/or cc-occurring mental illness, and the impact that this had on you and the family. When writing, pay attention to any anger, judgment and blame and refrain from allowing it to color this section.
- Use your experience and be specific. Don’t try to guess what your loved one was thinking. Be a recorder of the experience.
- This “fact recording” is not about being cold or unemotional. But it will be?uncomfortable. Report how you felt at the time. The challenge is to spot judgment, blame, or resentment and to prevent them from masquerading as truth.
Below are words that express uncomfortable feelings. Use them to communicate what you were feeling in a given situation. None are blaming words:
Angry Discouraged Helpless Anxious Depressed Worried Hurt Frustrated Insignificant Rejected Insecure Reckless Inadequate Lonely Ashamed Guilty Afraid Apathetic Bewildered Confused Embarrassed Miserable Inferior Numb
- It’s suggested that you focus on the experience of the past six to 12 months. Use the most recent and significant information available to you.
- Write one to three examples of your experiences with the behavior, including failed past attempts in recovery. Detail is good but being overly scrupulous is not. Keep it short.
Section Three: Closing
The third and last part of the letter is to express hopefulness about the recovery process. Repeat here how much you care. Then state your support and how proud you are of your loved one. A few last words on writing your letter: Start your letter with a salutation, such as “Dear Mom” or “Dear Jessica.” End it by referring to your relationship, such as “Your Loving Daughter / Husband.”
WRITTTEN ASSIGNMENT #2: List Work
Every guest participant must write a total of four lists. These lists are directed at the client. If you are a client, you must write a set of lists (4 total lists-see below) for each friend/family member who participates in the Weekend. Please be honest and direct:
Prepare these two lists for the Saturday session:
- List up to 10 things you are SAD, FEARFUL, RESENTFUL OR ANGRY with your loved one
- List up to 10 things you LOVE, VALUE, OR RESPECT about your loved one
Prepare these two lists for the Sunday session:
- List up to 10 things you would like to APOLOGIZE to your loved one for
- List up to 10 things you would like to FORGIVE your loved one for
We hope that the Family Weekend will be an extraordinary experience for you and your family. Many former participants have described the weekend as “life changing.” Many family members express their relief at learning that other families are also affected by the eating disorder. They learn they are not alone, and they begin to seek out support. What each one of you receives from the Family Weekend experience is in direct proportion to what you are willing to contribute. We hope you join us in the spirit of love and curiosity.