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Who benefits from Family Psychoeducation?

People diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder and their families have shown the most benefit from family psychoeducation. There simply needs to be an interest in improving family relationships while learning what to do about the symptoms of mental illness. Recently, family psychoeducation has been shown to be helpful for people with bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Family is defined as anyone committed to the care and support of the person with mental illness and does not have to be a blood relative. In fact, consumers often ask a close friend or neighbor to be their support person in the group.

What is family psychoeducation?

It is an elaboration of models developed by Carol Anderson, Ian Falloon, Michael Goldstein and William McFarlane. For multi-family groups, practitioners invite 5 to 6 consumers and their families to participate in a psychoeducation group for at least six months. Additional meeting time promotes improved outcomes. Meetings are held every other week. The format is structured and pragmatic to assist people with developing skills for handling problems posed by mental illness. Over time, practitioners, family members, and consumers form a partnership as they work toward recovery. Consumers and their supporters may decide to meet as a single family rather than in the multi-family group format.

Family psychoeducation involves:

  • joining (developing an alliance)

  • on-going education about the illness

  • problem-solving

  • creating social supports

  • developing coping skills

Why should practitioners consider family psychoeducation?

Family psychoeducation builds on the family’s important role in the recovery process of people with mental illness. This approach is for practitioners who want to see markedly better outcomes for consumers by involving their families or support people. Family psychoeducation can be used in a single or multi-family format. It does not replace medication.

What are the benefits of family psychoeducation?

  • improved clinical outcomes, community functioning, and satisfaction for consumers

  • diminished interpersonal strain and stress within families

  • higher rates of employment and recovery

  • reduced need for crisis intervention and hospitalization over time

  • improved cost-benefit ratio

The American Psychiatric Association cites family psychoeducation, used in conjunction with medication, as one of the most effective ways to help in the recovery process for schizophrenia. Research has shown that thereis a significant reduction in relapse rates and unemployment when family intervention, multi-family groups, and medication are used concurrently.

Family Psychoeducation Toolkit


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