Incorporating family members in your behavioral health clients’ treatment journey can have significant benefits. Research has found that family involvement could lead to:
- Better patient outcomes, such as fewer relapses and better treatment compliance
- Reduced residual psychotic and deficit symptoms
- Reduced depression severity
- Improved quality of life and reduced social impairment
- Better access to mental health services in a crisis
- Reduced burdens on caregivers
There are some challenges you may need to address. In most cases, you will need your client’s permission to share information with family members. Loved ones may feel unprepared, inadequate, confused, mistrustful, or overwhelmed. With the right approach, you can help alleviate some of these obstacles.
Here are some ways to include family members in your client’s treatment.
Identify and invite family members.
Discuss the benefits of family involvement with your client. Work together to identify individuals who are most likely to be willing and able to help.
Proactively reach out to these individuals and invite them to participate in your client’s care. Many loved ones may be willing, but aren’t sure how. Often they may think that the provider does not want their involvement. They will need your explicit permission.
Communicate thoroughly and plainly.
The way you communicate with a client’s loved ones is crucial in getting them involved in care and helping them feel informed and empowered. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Avoid clinical terms and medical jargon; speak in plain language.
- Make sure family members understand your client’s condition and symptoms.
- Explain the treatment you recommend, the goals, and what results can be expected. Make sure loved ones understand how you will measure progress, and how often.
- Tell family members exactly how they can support your client.
- Offer to demonstrate any specific techniques you recommend.
- Invite family members to ask questions. Ask if you need to repeat or clarify anything you have already said.
Help families manage emotions.
In clients of any age, behavioral healthcare can lead to strong emotions and even conflict among families. They may struggle to accept a diagnosis or need for treatment. They may not accept what you have to say, or may disagree with the care being given.
Anger, frustration, fear, resentment, shame, guilt, and even grief may be involved. Often, these emotions may become directed toward you. Recognize these emotions as signals that clients and their caregivers need support. Acknowledge emotions and the family strengths they may indicate, such as concern for their loved one.
Help them help their loved one.
Even willing family members may not feel prepared to offer the support your client needs. Offer to connect them with additional resources, such as educational materials. You may recommend relevant community organizations and support groups, or ways to receive financial assistance.
Follow up with family members who have agreed to be involved in your client’s care. Keep them informed of your client’s progress, and let them know of any treatment changes you recommend. Ask if they need additional information or support.
Family involvement is a crucial tool in achieving the best behavioral health outcomes. These steps will help you invite and involve loved ones in your client’s treatment.
Besides partnering with family members, the right digital tools can also help you improve your client outcomes. Contact us today to learn about BestNotes OutcomeTools, a state-of-the-art system that helps behavioral health organizations track their effectiveness through outcome questionnaires.