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Article   |    
Building Collaborative Relationships With Families of the Mentally Ill
Henry Grunebaum; Holly Friedman
Psychiatric Services 1988; doi:
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The authors acknowledge the assistance of the the Families of the Mentally Ill Collective, Judith Grunebaum, L.I.C.S.W., and Carol Smith, M.S.W.

Division of family psychotherapy training at Cambridge (Mass.) Hospital

Harvard Medical School

American Psychiatric Association

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Abstract

Studies of the expressed emotion construct have demonstrated that educational programs aimed at helping families deal with a mentally ill member can reduce patient relapse rates and improve family coping. The authors describe a clinical approach to family psychoeducation focused on building collaborative relationships with mental health professionals. The approach is based on the assumption that family education will benefit the patient, but any implication that the family is to blame for the patient's illness is studiously avoided. Five tasks that must be addressed in beginning work with families of the mentally ill are discussed. They are ensuring that the family has a chance to be heard, imparting information, helping the family deal with the feelings engendered by the patient's illness, identifying the family's coping patterns, and helping the family face the ethical and existential conflict between their own needs and those of the patient.

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