The aim of the family treatment is to decrease the level of anxiety in the family, to enhance the knowledge of the disease and thereby the sense of security. The family is also taught, concretely, how to deal with symptoms. The aim is to reduce stress for the patient and the members of his or her family. This is especially so when it comes to emotionally loaded communication.
There are different sorts of family intervention. The main components in the programmes for family intervention consist of different forms of information regarding diagnosis, prognosis, aetiology, the effectiveness of the medication and the need to reduce stress in the family and in other contexts. Furthermore, support to the patient and the close relatives from the health care provider, support from the relatives to the patient and mutual support between families in similar situations are offered. So are early intervention, training in stress reduction, problem solving and communication.
The components that have proven effective are all characterized by focusing on:
- creating a positive alliance with the relatives
- working against negative aspects of the family climate (hostility, criticism and undue engagement)
- enhancing the knowledge of the disorder, the treatment, relapses and the role of the family
- enhancing the family’s capacity for problem solving and for managing crises
- formulating reasonable expectations on the affected family member
- creating a system of functional limits within the family