Can Online Therapy Help Children of Parents with Alcoholism?


    Particularly due to the pandemic, many people have chosen to pursue online therapy. Not only is it a great way to check in with your mental health without having to go see a doctor in person, it is often a cheaper and more accessible way to get help for a wide range of subjects, including but not limited to a family history of alcoholism. 

    Having alcoholic parents may lead to the development of anxiety, depression, or even alcoholism yourself, and therapy is a useful way to work through any of these. 

    However, you do not need to have a diagnosed mental illness to benefit from therapy. In fact, many people can benefit simply by talking about any familial histories to try to prevent further stress or anxiety. 

    How can alcoholism impact kids?

    Even when they are not living with alcoholism themself, children of people with alcoholism can be directly impacted in a number of ways. 

    Research has shown that children who have grown up alongside someone living with alcoholism are much more likely to develop difficulties surrounding drugs and alcohol themselves. They are also more likely to date or marry someone living with alcoholism, as this was their model growing up.

    Growing up alongside a parent with alcoholism can lead to:

    • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Exposure to situations of domestic violence
    • Instability
    • Neglect
    • Shame and guilt
    • Inhibited decision-making skills

    Alcoholism takes away control from the parent as well as the family. Because it is an example of addiction, alcohol may become a central aspect of someone’s life, causing them to make choices and sacrifices to obtain it or hide the impacts. 

    This greatly impacts the individual’s family, and primarily their children, who may bear the brunt of these situations.

    How can online therapy help?

    Online therapy can be an extremely effective way to address and treat any form of mental illness or work through processing of negative emotions. Because growing up alongside a parent with alcoholism can be traumatic or lead to negative feelings or mental illness, online therapy is a great option for relief and a sense of control over one’s emotions.

    Therapy will differ for each individual, but will often consist of a series of questions from your therapist and some suggestions of techniques or practices to incorporate into your life. 

    For example, many people will experience feelings of guilt for a parent’s alcoholism. If your therapist senses that you may think you are responsible, they might lead you through a series of questions, statements, or exercises that will help you to understand that you are not at fault. 

    Therapy helps you think about your emotional responses in new ways by challenging negative thoughts that you once perceived as truthful. When you have grown up with an alcoholic parent, you may have developed some negative thought patterns or emotional responses to certain stimuli. 

    Depending on your specific needs, your therapist can help you to feel more in control of these emotions and alleviate negative patterns.

    In conclusion

    Even if you are not the person who has experienced addiction or a mental illness, you can be greatly impacted by a parent living with alcoholism or another disorder. 

    Going to therapy online or in person can be an effective, accessible way to examine and treat the ways you may think or experience emotions after growing up with a parent with alcoholism. Therapy can help you rethink the negative patterns of thoughts and emotions that may affect you as well as empower you to move forward from a past impacted by alcoholism in any way.

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