A person’s social and support network is a major component of many individuals’ overall wellness. Natural supports are typically those individuals in a person’s life who are essentially not in a paid role. Thus, natural supports may include family and non-family, such as friends, romantic partners, church members, and neighbors, as well as landlords and employers.
Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams work to help develop, expand, and enrich individuals’ natural support system. Granted the individuals has given consent, ACT teams work directly with natural supports in an effort to provide optimal services to the individual. In addition to working with natural supports for practical purposes (getting assistance in locating the individuals, and coordinating around a hospitalization), family psychoeducation is ideally offered through ACT.
Examples for how ACT teams may interface and work with individuals’ natural supports:
- Reconnecting with family, whose relationships have long been severed
- Developing skills and opportunities to make friends
- Developing and enhancing parenting skills for ACT service recipients with children
- Educating natural supports about the person’s illness and effective treatments for that illness
- Providing more proactive interventions to address behaviors that may serve to exacerbate individuals’ symptoms
- Developing healthy problem-solving skills
- Helping natural supports truly understand the potential of individuals served, and emphasizing the importance of a recovery-perspective
- Providing resources, including those that may be of help to family (NAMI, ALANON)
- Although not family therapy, being a warm ear to hear the struggles and negative feelings families can experience when a loved one is challenged with severe mental illness
Learn More about how ACT can work with natural supports, including Family Psychoeducation, through these resources.