Is a prophylactic family-based interaction that begins during palliative care and continues into bereavement for high-risk families (hostile, sullen) to optimize mutual support.
A randomized controlled study showed significant reduction of distress at 13 months after death, with the largest effect on sullen families.
Lichtenthal WG, Kissane DW. Grief and Bereavement. In: Walsh D (ed), Palliative Medicine, Saunders Elsevier, Philadelphia, 2009. p. 73.
Facilitation of a family’s expression of thoughts and feelings about loss and coping with a relative’s illness and death to promote shared grief and optimal family functioning, often commenced during palliative care (with the ill relative attending) and continued into bereavement after the patient’s death.
It is a preventive model of family-centered care for families at risk of poor psychosocial outcome, as recognized by screening or clinical assessment.
To prevent maladaptive outcomes, a family therapist leads family sessions through the following stages
• agreement about the focus of work
• active therapy
Treatment takes 6-12 sessions, each lasting 90 minutes, and extending over 6-18 months, with later consolidation sessions spaced more widely. Length of treatment depends on degree of family dysfunction.