Family therapy for schizophrenia has been demonstrated to be effective and is recommended by international clinical guidelines. Reviews of family therapy research conclude that interventions may prevent relapse of the disease, when symptoms are already reduced under psychotropic medication, by reducing family factors associated with relapse. The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of Brief Solution Focused therapy (BSFT) in patients with schizophrenia focusing on the impact of change in family characteristics such as cohesion, conflict, organization and control on patients’ psychopathology measured with BPRS. Thirty patients diagnosed with schizophrenia were randomly assigned to the control or intervention group. The intervention group received treatment according to the BSFT model, whereas the control group received the standard care for schizophrenia. The BSFT is a future–oriented psychotherapy model which encourages clients to focus on ‘’change-talking’’ instead of ‘’problem-talking’’ and on instances where a successful solution has been achieved. The intervention was consisted of 5 sessions delivered in 3 months. Main outcomes were patient-rated family characteristics measured by the Family Environment Scale (FES), and psychiatrist-rated symptom severity measured with the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS). The two groups did not differ in terms of age, sex, number of relapses, previous hospital admissions, and BPRS score at baseline. At the end of treatment compared to baseline there was a reduction of the BPRS score in the intervention group (p<0.001) whereas no statistically significant changes were noticed in the control group after 3 months. Also, following treatment, patients in the intervention group displayed reduced scores on the Conflict FES scale (p=0.001) accompanied by increased scores on the Cohesion (p=0.004), Expressiveness (p=0.004), and Active Recreational subscales (p=0.001) according to patient’s perspective. These preliminary findings suggest that BSFT in patients with schizophrenia, appears to be effective in altering the global properties of the whole family system, specifically cohesion, conflict, organization and control which, in turn, have an impact on reducing patient psychopathology.
KEYWORDS: Brief solution focused family therapy, schizophrenia, family intervention.
Eleni I. Aivalioti, Panagiotis Simos, Maria Basta, Alexandros N. Vgontzas