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David Baxter

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NAMI Chapters begining new Family to Family Classes
January 06, 2008

Every January most NAMI chapters around the country start their new sessions of their Family to Family courses - and we encourage everyone to sign up for one if you haven't already. Here is a brief description of the courses:

For nearly 10 years, NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Guilford County has offered a course called Family-to-Family. This course covers information about major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and borderline personality disorder. A series of 12 weekly classes is structured to help family members understand and support their ill relative while maintaining their own well-being. The course is taught by a team of trained volunteer family members who know what it's like to have a loved one with a serious mental illness in the family. There is no fee for this course.​
The NAMI Family-to-Family Education Program was begun in 1991 by psychologist Joyce Burland, Ph.D., who had spent 20 years dealing with severe schizophrenia in her sister and daughter. She had never been given any instruction on how to be helpful to them, so she decided to write a standardized curriculum and training guide for other families. Now, more than 150,000 family members in the United States, Mexico and Canada have completed this course.

There is good reason to believe that Family-to-Family is an evidence-based program. Over the past decade, a research team at the University of Maryland in Baltimore and NAMI have collaborated on a series of studies to examine the benefits people receive when they complete Family-to-Family. These research studies show that those who have taken the course understand mental illness better, worry less and feel better able to care for their ill relative. Many family members describe the impact of taking this course as "life changing."

The only negative thing I've ever heard about these classes is that they rely upon some very outdated views (or at least NAMI has in the past) on the cause and treatments of mental illness. In the the major medical schools around the world today, they teach what is known as the Bio-Psycho-Social Model [1] of mental illness which states that the causes and treatments of mental illness are factors that include biological predisposition, as well as psychological and social factors. By addressing all of these factors researchers tell us that you can both lower the risk of mental illness in your children, and reduce the risk of relapse in those who are mentally ill.

Unfortunately NAMI has relied upon the old and outdated model of schizophrenia as a purely biological disorder (i.e., a "brain disease") - ignoring or significantly under-emphasizing the advances during the past decade in understanding the psychological and social factors in mental illness. Psychiatrists, psychologists and neuroscientists all tell us that NAMI is seriously out of sync with the up-to-date medical profession in this key area.

To Sign up for a class in your area - check the NAMI list of local chapters and affiliates - and contact them and ask them if they offer the Family to Family class (or something similar).


[1] Additional Reading: The Bio-Psycho-Social model in action :acrobat:
 

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HA

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Unfortunately NAMI has relied upon the old and outdated model of schizophrenia as a purely biological disorder (i.e., a "brain disease") - ignoring or significantly under-emphasizing the advances during the past decade in understanding the psychological and social factors in mental illness. Psychiatrists, psychologists and neuroscientists all tell us that NAMI is seriously out of sync with the up-to-date medical profession in this key area.

This is incorrect! I am one the the provincial trainers of this course and I have taught the course many times. The segment on causes specifically talks about the biopsychosocial model of mental illness.... where did this guy get this information from and he obviously has never taken the course....sheesh!

Joyce Burland is a very good psychologist and did not deveolp this program without using the most updated research!! As a matter of fact it is the research that families enjoy the most and the research along with the rest of the course material is updated on a regular basis!

Sounds like his psychologist and psychiatrist friends are those from the psychosocial camp who place empahsis on psychosocial theorectical causes of schizophrenia which have been blown out of the water for many years now....these folks are considered the crackpots by the majority of psychologists, psychiatrists and neuroscientists. So which camp causes more harm in families of people living with schizophrenia the medical model (biopsychosocial) of causation or nonmedical model (psychosocial) of causation?!

This makes me so mad! :rant:
 
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David Baxter

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Actually, what that article was saying is that they wanted more emphasis on the biopsychosocial model, not the psychosocial model.

It seems they based the comments about NAMI being behind the times on some old (1999-2000) articles by John Grohol. The rest of the original article (I didn't reporduce the whole thing here) did note that interested persons should check with their local NAMI Chapters to ascertain what views or approaches the Chapter espouses.
 

HA

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Well, Grohol is seriously out of date and and he is obvioulsy anti-family and anti-NAMI. If Schizophrenia.com is taking his guidance as a professional then it will go to hell in a hand basket. A great deal of harm is done by this kind of thinking. How disturbing.

Just because someone is a professional does not mean they are good at what they do.
 

HA

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and...schizophrenia is a brain disease!
 

HA

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Just for clarification, this course is highly structured and monitored by Joyce Burland herself. This is her full-time job with NAMI. No content is allowed to be changed in any form so everyone who takes this course no matter what chapter or state or province it is given in, get the exact same identical course content.

It is a lecture format that is all laid out and the huge binder of material is also given to family members to keep and take home. This course is completely free and there are no charges for the course material or to attend. It is the best course I have ever taken! I love it and so do those who take it.
 
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HA

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Yeah...you're right Dr Baxter but those Grohol articles gave me a freaken heart attack! I don't think I will ever get over it....maybe when :pigsfly:
 

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