Treatment of Adult Children of Alcoholics in ACOA therapy attends to the special problems of people who have grown up in a family where one or both parents abused alcohol.
The impact of growing up in an alcoholic family can be considerable. Life in such families is often characterized by dysfunction, emotional deprivation, lack of trust, and the shame and secrecy associated with the alcoholic’s unpredictable moods or behavior.
Fear, frustration, and anger often give way to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Children growing up in such environments often question their own self worth and their ability to control their own lives. They may be confused about what they feel or whether they are entitled to have feelings at all. Close relationships with others later in life frequently reflect these early strains.
Psychotherapy, whether in a therapy group or in individual therapy, helps ACOAs to establish trust, to develop a sense of self worth, to learn more about their own needs and how to get them met, and to form more intimate, enduring relationships.
For the substance abuser who grew up in an alcoholic family, attending to ACOA issues may be an important part of work in later stages of recovery. As such, recovery may be enhanced by examining the ways in which current problems and ways of interacting are related to early experiences in one’s family of origin.
Finding a therapist who feels like a good match is the first step to creating a trusting relationship. Experience working with ACOAs is important, as well as a history of teaching, training, and supervising others who work with this population through books about ACOAs, ACOA-related articles, and lectures.
A therapist specializing in alcoholism treatment and the impact of substance abuse issues on the family may at times also be helpful when intervention with an alcoholic parent is desired.