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Supportive Family Training]Working Through the Heart: A Transpersonal Approach to Family Support and Education[/url]

By Sheila Shulman Le Gacy (reprinted with permission)
Published by Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal

Sheila Shulman Le Gacy, MA, the creator of Supportive Family Training, is the Director of the Family Support & Education Center at a not-for-profit rehabilitation and residential agency in Syracuse, New York. She served for 8 years on the board of NAMI New York State, and presently coordinates NAMI curriculum and training for upstate New York. For further information contact the author at Transitional Living Services, 239 W. Fayette Street, Syracuse, NY 13202,315-478-4151 office ext152.

The following article by Sheila Shulman LeGacy was originally published in Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 1998, Vol. 22, No. 2.

Supportive Family Training is designed for the relatives of persons diagnosed with serious psychiatric disorders. Support, education, and advocacy is the three-point focus of the training,which provides the framework for a powerful and cost-effective teaching model. Supportive Family Training presents the latest research about schizophrenia and the major mood disorders,and provides practical coping and management skills, communication techniques, and problem solving. In addition to receiving extensive information about their relatives? illnesses, and support for their pain, families are given effective strategies and language to assist them in communicating with mental health professionals. The model allows for a limited number of mental health professionals to enroll in the course, with the goal of providing opportunities for professionals to empathize with the family experience and for the families to understand the perspectives of professionals.

In this article I describe an approach to family support and education that actively focuses on the suffering endured by families who have relatives with neurobiological brain disorders. I have been teaching families for over 17 years. I also have a close relative with schizophrenia. The hundreds of families that I have worked with, and my own experience, have convinced me that family support and education is at its most effective when it is built upon a conscious and compassionate acknowledgment of the pain that is inherent to this particular care-giving experience. I believe that until families accept, and learn to manage, the spectrum of powerfully charged and painful emotions they experience, they cannot be free.
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