Helping Clients Overcome Resistance to Psychotropic Medication: Strategy # 2

medication_and_familiesLast week, I discussed the “shame factor” as a reason for psychotropic medication resistance and/or refusal, and addressed some ways for helping your clients overcome shame issues. This week’s post focuses on family interference and how you can help.

2. Family Interference.

Face it clinicians, family members are our de-facto healthcare specialists. They have likely witnessed the unpredictability and even the anguish associated with the mental health struggles of their ill family member — your client. In this sense, they are not merely uninvolved bystanders, so for clinicians that want to practice in a context of collaborative care, expanding the scope of treatment to include the family is a must. Clients who believe their family members have a supportive interest in their improvement are often less resistant to the use of psychotropic medication, but unfortunately, some family members, because of belief systems ingrained over many years, actually condone resistance to medication use setting up a potential treatment dilemma.

How you can help: Have a healthy respect for family members’ views and experiences about medication, but do challenge faulty belief systems – such as “mental illness is a character flaw,” “medication is for crazy people,” or “medication doesn’t work – with determination. Offer reading material and Web addresses to help ensure that family members have as much information as possible. Answer any questions they may have straightforwardly, as you need as many allies as you can get throughout the treatment process.

Joseph Wegmann, R.Ph., LCSW is a licensed clinical pharmacist and a clinical social worker with more than thirty years of experience in the field of psychopharmacology. His diverse professional background in psychopharmacology and counseling affords him a unique perspective on medication management issues. In addition to consulting with numerous psychiatric facilities, he has presented psychopharmacology seminars to thousands of clinicians in 46 states.

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