Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Reading Ron Unger's post on the successes of the Family Care Foundation in Sweden has reinforced to me the value of staying the course with Chris, not getting stressed/worried/demanding, he will continue to be fine. The Family Care Foundation uses surrogate families and little meds. The families attend training sessions and receive group therapy and individual therapy and professional supervision. It sounds terrific, but begs the question as to why a surrogate family and not the genetically related family?

While it is generally acknowledged that a supportive family is a good predictor of recovery, it is also true that close family members, particularly the parents, are also the people most negatively impacted, i.e. feel that they have the "most to lose" if things don't go well. This makes them in some ways not the best people to smoothly handle their child's crisis. Looking at this another way, am I going to lose any sleep if my neighbor's relative is not making his milestones, sleeping in and depressed or psychotic? Probably not. But I do care if it is my child and this concern will spill over, and in trying to be helpful, I may be creating further stress.

Another question that popped into my head on reading about the Family Care Foundation in Sweden, is how come it always seems to work in Sweden? I could use some therapy myself but I am not too keen on having strangers supervise me, having had to deal with psychiatrists for far too long who have turned Chris's breakdown of spirit into prolongued medical meddling. North Americans have this view of Europe as much more sensible and humane when it comes to these matters, but is the reality really as good as they say it is? I live in a country with an illustrious past in psychiatry. The program that my son spent two years in was, in my humble opinion, no different than what you get in North America or other industrialized nations. It was all about the meds. The program was touted as being innovative (it has social workers and occupational therapists), but the reality was far from it.

Apart from the fact you are turning a personal family crisis over to management by others, the Family Care Foundation looks like a model worth emulating. Again, why just Sweden?


  1. The Scandavian countries appear to be more accepting of treatments outside of the pharmacological model. Jack Rosberg has consulted extensively in Scandanavian countries.

    I would suggest that there is nothing in particular wrong with training and having the biological family provide the treatment and that counter to your suggestion they not only have the most to lose but also the most to gain. As a consequence they are fully committed and invested. The biological family however will undoubtedly have to resolve some additional issues internally before they are capable of offering effective treatment to their family member recognizing that this is the environment within which the problem developed.

  2. Anonymous: "The Scandinavian countries" is an exaggeration. Alternative approaches are only found locally in Sweden and Finland. The rest of Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark, Iceland) is about as bio-bio-bio, as the U.S.


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