Family session is a turning point for residents at St. Joseph’s.
It is an opportunity to strengthen family bonds, rebuild the foundations of relationships and rejoin loved ones, long lost, due to addiction.
What is the Family Program?
St. Joseph’s is proud to offer the only residential family program of its kind in New York State. Each resident of our inpatient facility participates in a four day session designed to address the difficulties that often arise in families when addiction is present.
Residents are given the opportunity to invite loved ones to attend their session at our inpatient facility. Those who attend will experience an intensive therapeutic intervention aimed at healing the damage caused by the addiction. It is the hope of the Family Department that each participant of the sessions leaves with an increased understanding of chemical dependency, as well as, the steps necessary to achieve recovery both as a family and individually.
Who attends family session?
Upon admission to St. Joseph’s, residents meet with family counselors to sign releases for those loved ones they wish to invite to participate in family session. Counselors guide residents towards identifying loved ones who have been most impacted by their disease, who have enabled them, and who they wish to continue relationships with after treatment. Ultimately, the invitation to participate in family session is at the discretion of each resident. Only those persons contacted by the family department may attend family session. Participants include, but are not limited to: parents, children (ages 13 and older), spouses, significant others, friends, sponsors, and other relatives.
Residents may also choose to have loved ones participate by writing a letter to be shared during the sessions. The family department contacts loved ones who have been invited to write and will provide them with guidelines for writing their letter.
What can I expect during family session?
Those who attend the session will benefit from a combination of psycho-educational groups led by experienced counselors, a structured intervention which allows loved ones to share with their resident how they have been impacted by the addiction, and fellowship with other families who have similar stories. The family session schedule includes meals and visits which take place on our campus. Attendees should be prepared for long days, beginning at 8:00 a.m. and continuing into the early evening. Family sessions can be emotionally and mentally draining and it is recommended that those who attend get a full 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Where do I stay during family session?
Your meals and lodging during family session are provided by St. Joseph’s and are free of charge. Participants reside at a local motel and enjoy lunch and dinner with their residents in our dining hall. Reservations are made by the family staff after participants confirm their attendance with us.
We require that all participants stay at the accommodations provided by St. Joseph’s and we respectfully ask that you do not make alternative arrangements.
What items can I bring for my resident?
You may bring clothing or toiletry items for your resident, books for leisure reading, photos/cards, or money to be placed on their account.
Toiletry items which list alcohol as one of the first three ingredients are prohibited, as are, food and beverages.
Items to be given to residents must be exchanged in the presence of a staff member. This is always done at the end of the family sessions.
What if I can’t stay the entire time?
In order to provide the most therapeutic experience for both residents and their loved ones, full participation is strongly encouraged. While we understand that it can be difficult to coordinate 4 days away from work and family, it is our experience that the process is most effective for those who can commit to full attendance.
If you have concerns regarding this policy, please contact our family staff to discuss your options.
Do I need to prepare anything for the session?
There is no preparation required for family session. We ask only that you come with an open mind and a willingness to engage in recovery focused activities and discussions. Please be willing to ask questions and hear insights on topics such as Assertive Communication, Enabling, Boundaries, and Self Care.
We also require participants of family session to be abstinent from non-prescribed drugs and alcohol for 5 days prior to the session and through the duration of the session.
What time should I arrive?
You should arrive at St. Joseph’s by 6:45 p.m. on the first evening. This will be either a Sunday or Friday depending on your session. At 7:00 p.m. the family staff will be conducting an orientation to prepare you for the days ahead.
Can I check into the motel before arriving at St. Joe’s?
You may check into the motel prior to arriving at St. Joe’s for your orientation. Check-in is at 3:00 p.m. We ask that you arrive by 6:45 p.m. to our facility to ensure that our sessions remain on schedule.
Where do I park?
As you approach the inpatient facility you will see a large parking lot. Please drive through that lot and continue up the hill until you see a small building with additional parking in front of it. This parking is designated for family members. If you require handicapped parking, please drive around the back of the building until you see the handicap parking spaces.
Does St. Joseph’s provide assistance with transportation?
While St. Joseph’s does not directly provide transportation for family members to and from our facility, we do offer to pick up those participants who are arriving by bus, and offer to drop them off for departure on the final day of family session. The Adirondack Trailways bus arrives in Saranac Lake at 6:05 p.m. and departs from Saranac Lake at 11:00 a.m.
Please inform the family staff of your travel arrangements so that we may ensure a driver is available.
What time does family session end on the final day?
Family session concludes before 12:00 noon on the final day (either Monday or Wednesday). The exact time will vary slightly and is dependent on the scheduled time for your meeting with your resident and their primary counselor.
Reinforcing Thoughts for Returning Family Members
If you have already been through our program but need a refresher on some of our key concepts, please see the reinforcing thoughts below:
What is Enabling vs. Supporting?
During the session we introduced three questions to help you determine if you are enabling.
1. What is motivating your behavior? (ex: fear, guilt)
Often we provide assistance to our loved ones based on our own uncomfortable feelings. We tell ourselves that we are “helping” however we are actually seeking to alleviate our own discomfort of watching our loved one struggle.
2. Who’s responsibility is it?
Sometimes we forget that our loved ones are adults who are capable of managing their own recovery and their own lives. Again, we try to “help” by taking on their responsibilities. However, in doing so, we may be sending the message that they are not capable; reinforcing the low self esteem that often accompanies addiction.
3. Is it helpful in the long run?
Throughout the chaos of addiction, we seek out temporary solutions to difficult problems. It can be helpful to give pause and question if our actions will prevent our loved ones from experiencing the discomfort needed to make necessary changes in their lives.
“When you… I feel…”
This is our simple formula. Remember, it is not a guarantee that you will get what you want; only an opportunity to directly and honestly express your experience while honoring your communication rights and without violating the rights of others.
“When you… I feel… I need… and if you can’t…”
It is important to remember that boundaries are acts of self-care, not an attempt to control or change another person. Our boundaries are likely to be tested and crossed, making it critical to follow through on the consequences we’ve established.
As we say in family session, “The best support you can be for your loved one is the best YOU that you can be.” Addiction is truly a family disease and we each have the option of removing ourselves from its destructive cycle. Regardless of the choices made by the addicted person, we each deserve to live peaceful and fulfilling lives, free from the chaos addiction creates.