Working with Families and Psychiatric Rehabilitation Principles

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Like the rest of society, mental health professionals have traditionally let fear and blame dominate their interactions with the families of persons who have a mental illness (Lundwall, 1996). All professionals, including psychiatric rehabilitation (PsyR) practitioners, need to be willing to create better options and resources for families and their members. One of the guiding principles of psychiatric rehabilitation is that the involvement and partnership of persons receiving services, as well as their family members, is essential to effective operation, evaluation, and governance of PsyR services (IAPSRS, 1996). Thus, family involvement in treatment, rehabilitation, and support are recognized as important elements in a person's rehabilitation (Cook & Hoffschmidt, 1993). In particular, the psy-choeducation of families and consumers helps ensure that they have reasonable expectations regarding the disease, its treatment, and rehabilitation (Hatfield, 1990).

Because psychiatric rehabilitation is about community-based services, integrated settings, and natural supports, the involvement of family members (parents, spouses, children, and others) is essential in order to provide maximally normalized services. Clearly, many consumers may need treatment and a great deal of support for their entire lives. Thus, it is probably best if family members, when willing, are engaged as partners in the long-term rehabilitation process (Cook & Hoffschmidt, 1993).

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