Family Psychoeducation for Schizophrenia

Status: Strong Research Support


Family Psychoeducation (FP) for schizophrenia refers broadly to several different models of treatment in which the family members of a person with schizophrenia participate in and are the focus of the intervention. This is not based on the assumption that family members cause schizophrenia but rather on a recognition that families can have a significant impact on their relative’s recovery and functioning. The patient-centered goals of FP include reduced relapse, fewer hospitalizations, and improved outcomes for the person with schizophrenia. Family-centered goals are to reduce the distress of dealing with a family member’s mental illness, improve patient-family relations and decrease the burden of mental illness on family members. FP incorporates education about schizophrenia, assistance with crisis intervention, problem solving training, emotional support, and communication skills training. FP interventions typically last at least 9 months, can be conducted with individual families or in multi-family groups, and include a focus on the family’s strengths and resiliency.

Key References (in reverse chronological order)

  • Dixon, L., Adams, C. & Lucksted, A. (2000) Update on family psychoeducation for schizophrenia. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 26(1), 5-20.
  • Dyck, D.G.; Short, R.A.; Hendryx, M.S.; Norell, D.; Myers, M.; Patterson, T.; McDonell, M.G.; Voss, W.D.; and McFarlane,W.R. Management of negative symptoms among patients with schizophrenia attending multiple-family groups. Psychiatric Services, 51: 513–519, 2000.
  • Tomoras, V.; Mavreas, V.; Economou, M.; Ioannovich, E.; Karydi, V.; and Siefanis, C. The effect of family intervention on chronic schizophrenics under individual psychosocial treatment: A 3-year study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 35: 487-493, 2000.
  • McFarlane, W.R. Multiple-family groups and psychoeducation in the treatment of schizophrenia. New Directions in Mental Health Services, 62(summer): 13-22, 1994.
  • Hogarty, G.E.; Anderson, C.M.; Reiss, D.J.; Kornblith, S.J.; Greenwald, D.P.; Ulrich, R.F.; and Carter, M. Family psychoeducation, social skills training, and maintenance chemotherapy in the aftercare treatment of schizophrenia. II. Two-year effects of a controlled study on relapse and adjustment. Archives of General Psychiatry, 48:340-7, 1991.
  • Falloon, I.R.; Boyd, J.L.; McGill, C.W.; Williamson, M.; Razani, J.; Moss, H.B.; Gilderman, A.M.; and Simpson, G.M. Family management in the prevention of morbidity of schizophrenia: Clinical outcome of a two-year longitudinal study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 42: 887-896, 1985.

Clinical Resources

  • McFarlane, W.R. (2002). Multifamily groups in the treatment of severe psychiatric disorders. New York: Guilford.
  • Falloon, E., Boyd, J., McGill, C. (1984) Family care of schizophrenia. New York: Guilford.
  • SAMHSA (2003, draft) Family psychoeducation implementation resource kit: Information for practitioners and clinical supervisors.

Training Opportunities

  • Amenson, C. (1998). Schizophrenia: A family education curriculum. Pacific Clinics.
  • Amenson, C. (1998). Schizophrenia: Family Education Methods. Pacific Clinics.
  • Mueser, K.T. &Glynn, S. (1999). Behavioral Family Therapy for Psychiatric Disorders. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications.