Families and Chronic Illness

Module Sections:

Ending Therapy


  • Review goals and progress of family and family members. This has the potential to improve the family’s recognition of their ability to use resources (bB factor) and perceptions (cC factor) in battling with the stressors/strains (aA factor) to lead them to a state of bonadaptation (xX factor).
  • Brainstorm with family relapse prevention strategies. This can come after discussing the family’s goals and improvements. The clinician can explore with the family the way things used to be before they improved. Then, discussing the interfaces of the illness and the family (Figure 1),the family is encouraged to list what things they need to work on or bolster to prevent them from going back to where they were when they were first presented for treatment. To illustrate, the family identifies that (along interfaces 1 of Fig. 1) their level of cohesiveness has improved as a result of therapy. They then share that they will know their level of cohesiveness is starting to dissipate when they start arguing more. The clinician then asks them to review things they can do to prevent them from arguing more. Or, if they start arguing more, what are the things they can do to become cohesive again. The clinician then encourages these techniques.
  • Ensure the family trusts their physician and health-care team (Rolland, 1994). This can be a short-term and a long-term goal for the family, especially if they have had bad experiences with the health-care team in the past (Rolland, 1994).
  • Let the family know the “door is open.” This means that they can return for 1 or 20 sessions in the future, if it is needed and would be helpful. This can also be emphasized when discussing relapse prevention techniques (as presented above). If the family feels it is necessary, they can have home-based family therapy again. This is especially true when the family feels they are starting to slip back to old ways and feel they cannot fix these issues on their own.