Family Intervention Strategiesby Amber Keefer
Education is a major component of any well-planned family-based intervention strategy. Not only do family members learn more about the biological aspects of the individual's dependency, physical illness or mental disorder, they learn what they can do to reduce stress and provide a supportive environment. Another essential step in the intervention process is helping family members to see what is and is not within their control.
Types of Family Interventions
Common types of family intervention programs include family therapy, such as counseling, mediation or counseling, prevention programs for children of adults who have substance abuse problems and involvement in a family member's drug or alcohol treatment program. Programs to prevent teenage pregnancy or referrals to community support networks and service providers are other kinds of intervention programs. Some programs are especially targeted to families with low incomes.
Home visitation strategies are often targeted to at-risk families. A form of early intervention, regular home visitation by a professional can often result in a successful outcome. A visiting professional, such as a nurse, develops a relationship with a family over time. The purpose is to offer support and advice, and provide education and referral to other services when needed. One example is a program where a nurse regularly visits the home of a low-income, unwed mother during the first year or two of a child's life. The purpose is to give the young mother advice about her infant's health and development.
Goals of Family Intervention
The primary goal of family intervention is to motivate the individual with a problem to seek help. Interventions targeted at individuals with mental health problems are intended to reduce the risk of recurring relapse. Other objectives of intervention include encouraging communication within the family, addressing the issues, which make a family member susceptible to substance abuse or other risky behaviors, creating a healthier family environment and decreasing the likelihood that a family member's problem will become worse. Family members learn to communicate effectively with each other so that they can deal with the issues at hand and come up with their own solutions to a problem.
Family intervention programs are designed to help both the individual with the problem and his family members. Programs offer encouragement and support, increase a family's awareness and knowledge about a loved one's problem, as well as improve communication and conflict resolution skills within the family unit. Intervention can help to reduce stress within the household by assisting families in developing better coping skills. When substance abuse is the problem, family intervention strategies may help prevent children or other siblings from getting involved with drugs or alcohol.
Family intervention programs and services are usually more successful if intervention starts early and is combined with other prevention strategies. This is especially the case if a family is dealing with a loved one's drug and/or alcohol abuse problems. Effective programs are well-structured, and must be adequately funded and managed by experienced and well-trained staff. Some of the most successful programs are funded to include research and on-going evaluation. Prevention programs overall help to reduce the risk factors associated with substance abuse, behavioral problems, certain illnesses or mental health problems.
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