While the field of psychology has come a long way from locking the door and throwing away the key on people who carry a mental illness diagnosis, there is still a long way to go. Regardless of the research that has been done attempting to normalize these problems as medical diseases many people still cannot shake the notion that all mentally ill individuals are dangerous and unpredictable. Psycho educational Multifamily Group Therapy is a model of treatment that focuses on arming family members with facts to replace commonly accepted myths regarding mental illness and fostering supportive environments to normalize the experience of families with a member carrying a mental illness diagnosis.
For the purpose of application throughout this paper, the following paragraph is a basic outline of a case involving a family struggling with the diagnosis of one of its members with a mental illness.
[...] They would all gain knowledge and support from a multifamily group therapy experience that would allow them to view Joe as a person with a disease rather than, as a disease that has overtaken Joe. Additionally the research conducted with bipolar children that indicated that parental discord is detrimental to the overall ability of the family to cope with the disease. It is not a far leap to assume that similar results would be yielded if the study were focused on children with schizophrenia and thus Joe's parents resolving their issues for real rather than hiding them for Joe's benefit would increase the resiliency of the entire family. [...]
[...] Hogarty and McFarlane would advocate for psycho educational multifamily therapy from the perspective that Hogarty originally intended to educate all of the members of the system about what exactly the diagnosis means and what they can expect. An initial session would involve creating a therapeutic alliance and engaging the family in the program. Emphasis would be placed on getting comfortable with the other families involved and developing questions to be answered and brainstorming about the obstacles that present themselves on a daily basis surrounding the diagnosis. [...]
[...] Tantillo (2006) looked at the psycho educational multifamily therapy group (PMFTG) approach to eating disorders and how it can be improved by recognizing aspects of relational/cultural theory (R/CT). PMFTG helps families and patients to feel that they are not alone in their experiences and struggles, providing a sense of universality and a shared bond in the struggles of the illness and the recovery process. These groups intend to bring in families that differ in age, class, and ethnicity to create a broad social network that is therapeutic in function. [...]
[...] Clinical Practice The clinical overview allowed for a brief glimpse at the general ideals driving this model but practically speaking the goal of this therapy is, as McFarlane (2004) puts it, to “maximize the impact of psycho educational strategies by exploiting the unique social structure of the multifamily group.” Educating a family about the illness one of their close relatives is suffering from can help them develop strategies to support each other, manage, and cope. Interestingly, having multiple families learn together appears to strengthen that effect (McFarlane, 1995). [...]
[...] Finally McFarlane used the individuals' primary therapist to conduct the psycho educational multifamily therapy sessions whereas Leff brought in someone from outside of the patients' usual treatment team. If one considers the differences between the McFarlane study and the Leff study, an interesting trend can be noted. Hogarty who pioneered the idea of working collaboratively with the family system to understand the disease affecting one of its members, worked very pointedly from a Humanistic perspective. McFarlane's research design also indicates that he believes in a more collaborative framework and implies that he too incorporated Rogers' ideals. [...]
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