Serious Mental Illness and the Family Project

The onset of a severe psychiatric illness such as major depression or bi-polar illness is a powerfully complex experience for young adults and their families. The young adult is faced with the daunting challenge of dealing with symptoms that interfere with an ability to function at school or work. Family members, especially parents, are unprepared to deal with the symptoms that impair the day-to-day functioning of a loved one. Managing the emotional reactions to the troubling behaviors that are consistent with a psychiatric disorder, while helping a young adult handle them, can be overwhelming to family members, leaving them feeling confused, guilty, angry, and frightened.

Our project is dedicated to developing best practices to help family members regain a sense of control, connection, and calm in the face of an emerging mental illness.

The work of the project has been shared at national and international meetings including trainings in Chile, Argentina, Italy and Thailand.

Our project pays special attention to:

  • The symptoms of emotional dysregulation and how they manifest in psychiatric illnesses.
  • The impact of an emerging psychiatric illness on the relational functioning of the family.
  • Techniques for addressing in session escalation when working with emotional dysregulation in families.
  • Creating “Climates of Calm” in the home to reduce symptom exacerbation.

Project Clinicians:

Mary Kim Brewster, PhD
Lois Braverman, LCSW

The project is not accepting new families at this time.


‹‹ Research