Family Therapy in Treating Schizophrenia


Family Therapy

Family therapy is based on the theory that schizophrenia is associated with schizophrenogenic mothers, double-bind communication, expressed emotion, or other dysfunction in the family. The aim in modern forms of therapy is to reduce the stress in the family environment so preventing relapse.

Pharoah et al (2010) suggest that the following techniques, in which all of the family are involved, are used:

  • A cooperative, trusting relationship within the family is established.
  • Therapist provides information about schizophrenia.
  • Family members contribute, all contributions valued.
  • Reducing anger and guilt.
  • Family is provided with practical coping skills to help deal with the disorder (to anticipate and solve problems).
  • More constructive ways of interaction and communication encouraged (to avoid expressed emotion).
  • Training to detect any signs of relapse in the patient.
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Evaluation of Family Therapy in Treating Schizophr

+ Pharoah et al (2010) found that there is moderate evidence to show that family therapy reduces relapse rates and hospital readmissions in schizophrenia patients, but there were variances in the quality of the research studies used. Therefore, there is (weak) research support for family therapy.

- Family therapies may improve the quality of life for schizophrenia patients and their families, but do not provide a cure for schizophrenia, rather a management of the effects. This means it cannot be used to treat schizophrenia by itself.

- Family therapy is based on the premise that nurture (upbringing) is a significant factor in schizophrenia. The biological basis for schizophrenia is therefore not addressed at all in the therapy, limiting its use.

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