For families with children in treatment, the holidays can be a tough time of year. I’ve already written previously blogs on how we provide parent support during the holidays, as well as how we celebrate the holidays at Trails with students. For siblings of Trails students, this time of year can be just as isolating as it is for parents.
Support Through Individualized Sibling Calls
At Trails, one of the things we feel really strongly about when working with families is including the entire family throughout the process. Because of that, in addition to our parent support calls we also offer individualized sibling calls. These sibling calls allow for family therapists to better understand how siblings are processing, handling, and making meaning of the idea that their brother or sister is away at treatment.
Siblings of Trails students are often the family members asked by individuals in the community where their brother or sister is. These sibling calls help provide support for answering questions like these.
Sibling Calls During the Holidays
During the holidays, sibling calls are usually centered around spending time with their family at home without the presence of their sibling in treatment. Whether siblings are coming home from college, or have a break from school, they are going to be spending a lot of time together as a family during the holiday season. We help siblings process emotions revolving around celebrating the holidays without their sibling.
Many siblings tend to feel torn between celebrating the holiday as usual and the guilt that comes with their brother or sister not being around for the holidays. During the sibling calls, we help siblings work through these torn feelings in a healthy way. We offer advice for coming up with a middle ground of celebrating the holiday in a way that is helpful for them but also honoring their brother or sister that’s away.
Honoring siblings during the holidays
For siblings of Trails students, honoring their brother or sister away receiving treatment can take the form of a variety of things. Some siblings are really intentional about a gift or letter. Others modify a holiday tradition in a way that feels supportive to them. For example, a couple of years ago there was a sibling who pulled up an extra chair to the dinner table during a holiday dinner gathering. It was really important for that sibling to make a place for her sister at the family table to signify that her sister was there in spirit.
Sibling Calls Create A Safe Space
Sometimes siblings don’t share their emotional turmoil with their parents because they think their parents are under enough stress and they don’t want to add to their stress. Often, siblings may stay very stoic and reserved through family calls because of that. Individualized sibling calls allow for a safe place for siblings to open up about their feelings without worrying that they are burdening their parents with that information.
Trails Carolina Helps The Entire Family
Trails Carolina provides family support for the entire family. During the holidays, this family support can be especially helpful for working through all of the emotions that come with the holiday season.
Trails Carolina has helped hundreds of families achieve successful outcomes. For more information about our family programming, click here.
For more information about how Trails student spend the holiday season, click here.
For more information about how Trails supports families during the holidays, click here.
Jacob is a Licensed Clinical Professional. Jacob began working in the wilderness therapy field nearly a decade ago and has worked in wilderness programs in Utah and Wisconsin. Additionally, he worked at an extended care sober living program in Maine and ran adventure camps while in college. Having had a family member in treatment, Jacob understands first-hand the value of including parents and siblings in the process. He is passionate about keeping attuned to the wants and needs of parents and siblings throughout the wilderness therapy experience. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters.