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On the last track we discussed avoiding relapses. Three aspects of avoiding relapse that we have examined are signs of relapse, decreasing stress and dating, and other healthy habits that can help prevent relapse.
The focus of the last track was on things clients can do for themselves to avoid relapse. On the next two tracks we will look at how family members of our clients can help prevent relapses by implementing a relapse prevention plan. By formulating a specific plan for how the client and family members will respond to warning signs of relapse, the family can take advantage of resources to prevent relapse.
On this track we will examine the four basic steps to developing a relapse prevention plan. The four steps are deciding how to conduct a family meeting for preventing relapses, discussing past relapses, discussing past stressful experiences, and putting together a relapse prevention plan. As you listen to this track, you might consider your client’s family. Would playing this track for the family benefit your client?
#1 Deciding How to Conduct a Family Meeting For Preventing Relapses
I stated to Phil, Gary’s father, "To decide how to conduct a family meeting, you might determine in advance who will be present at the meeting. Consider where to hold the meeting, and how people will be contacted when early warning signs are first suspected. In addition, you might also find it useful to choose someone to guide each meeting." Phil listed who would attend the family meetings on his Relapse Prevention Plan.
#2 Discussing Past Relapses
To make discussing past relapses a productive step, Phil asked two main questions regarding Gary’s past relapses. Phil asked, "What early warning signs did we see?" and "What were the very earliest clues that a relapse was about to happen?" Phil listed the early warning signs on the Relapse Prevention Plan.
#3 Discussing Past Stressful Experiences
Phil also asked other family members what they had noticed about Gary’s symptoms in relation to a particular stressful experience. Phil understood that there was no right or wrong answer, so he listened to everyone’s points of view. Phil recorded Gary’s possible stressful experiences on the Relapse Prevention Plan.
#4 Putting Together a Relapse Prevention Plan
Phil typed out Gary’s relapse prevention plan, and brought a new copy to each meeting. This way, Phil could compare any changes in stress or warning signs. Think of the family members of your client. Could you help them to develop a relapse prevention plan? Would your client benefit from the structure of the family meetings? Also, you might consider how client participation in family meetings could benefit your Gary.
On this track we have discussed the four basic steps to developing a relapse prevention plan. The four steps are deciding how to conduct a family meeting for preventing relapses, discussing past relapses, discussing past stressful experiences, and putting together a relapse prevention plan.
On the next track we will relate the implementation of Gary’s relapse prevention plan. We will also look at three steps a single family member or close friend can take to make it easier to head off a relapse. Three steps a single family member or close friend can take to make it easier to head off a relapse are finding help, developing stronger relationships with the treatment team, and joining a self help advocacy association.
Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Husted, J., Severson, R., & Husted, S. (2010). Preventing relapse in persons with serious mental illness. Journal of Rural Mental Health, 34(1), 33–35.
Lecomte, T., Potvin, S., Samson, C., Francoeur, A., Hache-Labelle, C., Gagné, S., Boucher, J., Bouchard, M., & Mueser, K. T. (2019). Predicting and preventing symptom onset and relapse in schizophrenia—A metareview of current empirical evidence. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 128(8), 840–854.
Pitschel-Walz, G., Leucht, S., Bäuml, J., Kissling, W., & Engel, R. R. (2001). The effect of family interventions on relapse and rehospitalization in schizophrenia—A meta-analysis. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 27(1), 73–92.
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