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April 16, 2007
Book on Family Psychoeducation
Family psychoeducation has been getting increasing publicity for its effectiveness in helping patients and their families cope with schizophrenia. This type of family intervention involves a combination of education and improved communication, problem solving, and processing of emotions for both family members and affected individuals.
Negative reactions from within a family is referred to as the family's "high expressed emotions". A family with "low expressed emotions" is described as one wherein the family members are supportive of the ill family member -- showing sympathy, compassion and concern -- without becoming overly protective.
Family psychoeducation is not considered "family therapy", which is a therapy used to correct disturbed family dynamics. Instead, family psychoeducation is used to engage the family as a supportive resource for aiding the patient's continuing recovery.
Although family psychoeducation is expensive, studies have shown that it is actually cost-effective in the long run since it reduces risk of relapse.
Dr. Harriet P. Lefley, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Miami School of Medicine reviewed a new book titled, "Advanced Family Work for Schizophrenia: An Evidence-Based Approach" by Julian Leff. The book contains 19 case studies detailing how clinicians deal with special problems that arise in family psychoeducation for schizophrenia.
Dr. Lefley writes:
Each case is presented with history, presenting problems, formulation, supervisor's suggestions, follow-up, and commentary. Major issues involve control and independence, family roles, emotional overinvolvement of caregivers, and appropriate behavioral expectations. Different cultural assumptions and diverse feelings about medications are acknowledged. Illness behaviors and strategies for coping with voices and other hallucinations are discussed. Referrals are made for cognitive therapy to deal with delusions, a child guidance team, or dual therapists for a husband and wife.
The book is aimed at clinicians, but may give the lay-person better insight into how this important work is actually accomplished.
Posted by Jeanie Wolfson at April 16, 2007 08:11 AM
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