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Sunday, June 23, 2024

The family.

Τhe family environment of the patient with an anxiety disorder will exercise a particularly important influence on the course of his/her illness, similarly with any other health problem in the life of the individual. However, this is the point where medicine and psychology depart decisively for the patient: whereas in the case of a medical illness, the family is willing to support the member in need with all its powers, in the case of a psychological illness this precious family attitude often remains an unmet need for the person who suffers.

Many factors contribute to the reserved and sometimes antagonistic attitude of the family towards the effort of the patient to get well. Some of these are:

  1. The family’s lack of understanding of the characteristics and of the seriousness of anxiety disorders.
  2. The belief that the patient can get well without professional assistance.
  3. The unexamined certainty with which the family guards its established values and processes
  4. The ambivalence of the family towards the effectiveness of the professional psychological services.
  5. The fear of psychotropic medication.

Whereas  the patient is in great need of the understanding, of the participation in his/her effort to get well and of the emotional support of the family, what s/he usually hears is that his/her fears are all in his/her mind and that there is no alarming medical problem.

In reality, these attitudes and behaviours suggest the absence of a meaningful emotional life in the family, and are often a long-term psychological factor in the development of the psychopathology of anxiety. This observation, so often made in the clinic and so persistently encountered in the literature, supports the argument that psychological mindfulness is desperately lacking in the family of our time. This is why the concept of psychological mindfulness is a singular objective for the Hellenic Association for Anxiety Disorders, along with the timely prevention and the complete therapy for them.

Ask your therapist:

  1. For specific advice as to how you can participate in the therapy of your spouse or child.
  2. In what way has the nature of your relationship with the patient facilitated the development of his/her problem.
  3. What are the desired changes in your relationship with the patient that may help him/her successfully address his/her anxiety disorder?

The patient needs:

  1. To know that you would be willing to undertake therapy yourself, if the therapist feels that it might help the patient.
  2. To experience that you are willing to reconsider your certainties about the way your family functions. 

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