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Practical Approaches to Effective Family Intervention After Brain Injury

Kreutzer, Jeffrey S. PhD, ABPP, FACRM; Marwitz, Jennifer H. MA; Godwin, Emilie E. PhD; Arango-Lasprilla, Juan C. PhD

Section Editor(s): Kreutzer, Jeffrey S. PhD, ABPP, FACRM; Arango-Lasprilla, Juan C. PhD

Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation: March-April 2010 - Volume 25 - Issue 2 - p 113–120
doi: 10.1097/HTR.0b013e3181cf0712

Rehabilitation professionals have become increasingly aware that traumatic brain injury has a long-term adverse impact on family members as well as on survivors. Family members often have a critical supporting role in the recovery process, and researchers have identified a relationship between caregiver well-being and survivor outcome. Drawing from the fields of family therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and individual psychotherapy, this article provides information to help clinicians effectively serve families. First, historically important and widely cited publications are reviewed and their implications for practice are discussed. Recommendations for developing successful therapeutic alliances are provided along with a rationale for their importance. Descriptions of common challenges and issues faced by families are presented along with corresponding therapeutic goals. Intervention principles and strategies, selectively chosen to help family members achieve therapeutic goals, are discussed. The article concludes with a presentation of ideas to help practitioners and systems of care more effectively help family members adjust and live fulfilling lives.

Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Drs Kreutzer, Godwin, and Arango-Lasprilla, and Ms Marwitz) and Neurosurgery and Psychiatry (Dr Kreutzer), Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Corresponding Author and reprint request: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, PhD, ABPP, FACRM, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Virginia Commonwealth University, PO Box 980542, Richmond, VA 23298 (

No commercial party having direct financial interest in the results of the research supporting this article has or will confer a benefit upon the authors or upon any organization with which the authors are associated. Supported in part by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, US Department of Education (grant H133A070036).

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.