The Family Forum: Directions for the Implementation of Family Psychoeducation for Severe Mental Illness


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Abstract

It is well documented that family psychoeducation decreases relapse rates of individuals with schizophrenia. Despite the evidence, surveys indicate that families have minimal contact with their relative's treatment team, let alone participate in the evidence-based practice of family psychoeducation. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sponsored a conference, the Family Forum, to assess the state of the art regarding family psychoeducation and to form a consensus regarding the next steps to increase family involvement. The forum reached consensus on these issues: family psychoeducation treatment models should be optimized by efforts to identify the factors mediating their success in order to maximize dissemination; leadership support, training in family psychoeducation models for managers and clinicians, and adequate resources are necessary to successfully implement family psychoeducation; because family psychoeducation may not be appropriate, indicated, or acceptable for all families, additional complementary strategies are needed that involve families in the mental health care of the patient; and work is required to develop and validate instruments that appropriately assess the intervention process and consumer and family outcomes. A treatment heuristic for working with families of persons with severe mental illness is also offered and provides a match of interventions at varying levels of intensity, tailored to family and consumer needs and circumstances. The article describes opportunities for the research and clinical communities to expand the proportion of families served.

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