Topic outline

  • Empowering families affected psychosis

    Welcome and overview

    Welcome to the online course Empowering Families Affected by Psychosis.

    Having a family member who experiences psychosis can be frightening and overwhelming. You play a key role in supporting your relative and in promoting their wellness and recovery. However, this role may take a toll on you as well. This self-directed online program is designed to offer you support as you care for your relative.

    Who is this course for?

    This course is for families, friends and supporters of those who have experienced a first episode of psychosis. The course covers what your relative may experience during early psychosis and how you can work with a health care team to support your relative in the recovery process. The course will also help you recognize the stress and range of emotions you may be experiencing and understand the importance of addressing your own needs.

    Learning goals

    At the end of this course, you will be able to:

      explain what psychosis is
      identify the impact of a relative’s symptoms of psychosis on you
      describe the challenges you may face with a relative experiencing psychosis
      explore ways to provide support to your family member during the recovery process
      identify physical, emotional, social and spiritual self-care strategies you can use to reduce your stress.

    The term "family"

    In the context of this course, the words “family,” “loved one” and “relative” describe people with strong emotional, psychological and/or economic commitments to one another. It can include those connected by biology, adoption, marriage/partnership, friendship or community/neighbourhood. “Family,” “loved one” and “relative” are used as broad terms to describe anyone who has a significant relationship or role in the life of a person.

    Format, learning activities and features

    This course is designed for people with a relative who is experiencing symptoms of psychosis. These six self-directed modules explore the issues faced by families in this situation. Each module includes several self-reflection activities to help you think about the issues and challenges you may be facing, and strategies to address them. You may wish to print out the tools and tips provided.

    Getting started

    It takes approximately one hour to complete one module, and approximately six hours to complete all six modules. You can work on the modules at your own pace at any time. If you would like to provide feedback, please complete the questions at the end of each module.

    We hope the information in this course is helpful to you.


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    The material in this course is based on and adapted from content from the following resources:

    Bartha, C., Kitchen, K., Parker, C. & Thomson, C. (2001). Depression and Bipolar Disorder: Family Psychoeducational Group Manual—Therapist Guide. Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

    Bromley, S., Choi, M. & Faruqui, S. (2015). First Episode Psychosis: An Information Guide (revised ed.). Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

    Bubbra, S., Himes, A., Kelly, C., Shenfeld, J., Sloss, C. & Tait, L. (2008). Families Care: Helping Families Cope and Relate Effectively. Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

    Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2011). Collaborating with Families Affected by Concurrent Disorders [online course]. Toronto, ON: Author.

    Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. (2018). Empowering Families Affected by Substance Use Problems [online course]. Toronto, ON: Author.

    Glynn, S.M., Cather, C., Gingerich, S., Gottlieb, J.D., Meyer, P.S., Mueser, K.T. et al. (2014). NAVIGATE Family Education Program (FEP): Family Manual. Alexandria, VA: National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD). 

    Martens, L. & Baker, S. (2009). Promoting Recovery from First Episode Psychosis: A Guide for Families. Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

    O’Grady, C.P. & Skinner, W.J.W. (2007). A Family Guide to Concurrent Disorders. Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

    For technical support and/or accessibility inquiries, please contact

    • 4. Communicating effectively with your relative, problem solving and setting limits

      • 6. Empowering yourself through support and self-care