Families and Mental Illness: New Directions in Professional Practice

Families and Mental Illness: New Directions in Professional Practice

Families and Mental Illness: New Directions in Professional Practice

Families and Mental Illness: New Directions in Professional Practice

Synopsis

This work is the most comprehensive volume to focus on new directions in professional practice with families of people with mental illness. It offers a multidisciplinary systems-oriented examination of theory, research, and practice in the area. Unique features include a consideration of life-span and family system and subsystem perspectives, as well as the inclusion of powerful personal accounts of family members. It is written from the perspective of a competence paradigm for clinical practice, which offers a constructive alternative to the more prevalent pathology models of the past.

Excerpt

There are many exciting developments currently under way concerning professional practice with families who have a member with mental illness. Families and Mental Illness was written to chart some of these developments in theory, in research, and in practice. The general objective was to provide a comprehensive overview of the area for practicing mental health professionals and for professionals in training. The challenges that have accompanied this endeavor have been considerable. One challenge has been the substantial body of literature that is now available. While I have undertaken a selective rather than an exhaustive review of the relevant literature, I hope that it can serve as a resource for professionals. The rapid developments in the area have represented another challenge, and I have sometimes felt as if I were shooting at a moving target. The current period appears to be a transitional one regarding professional practice with families, as existing structures are reappraised, new possibilities are explored, and new structures are formulated. It is these new directions that are the focus of this book.

The scope of the book presented an additional challenge, since the family experience and family-professional relationships cannot be understood without reference to the larger context, including the sociocultural and historical matrices in which both are embedded. Following deinstitutionalization, for example, the current era is as much family-based as community-based, and families often serve as an extension of the mental health system. There is much evidence that this is a substantial burden for families and that the needs of families are often poorly met . . .

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