Family Counseling Services After Brain Injury

Well, Taryn and I are both based at Virginia Commonwealth University at the medical center. And we are an academic institution. And part of our job is teaching, as well as patient care. And we provide specialized training at the medical center to students typically in psychology or family sciences and sometimes in social work. It's more--it's not classroom training. It's more like hands-on training--observation, meetings with families, watching. Taryn or I do intervention and then talking with the students after the intervention has taken place to discuss the goals, accomplishments, the challenges faced in the intervention process. We also do specialized trainings at the university where we bring in groups of 6-10 professionals and train them to do our family intervention program that we've developed, and that will involve 1 or 2 days of training. We have also done trainings in Canada, especially in the Toronto area. And we've also done training for The Brain Injury Association of Virginia and other brain injury associations for professionals who are interested in better serving the needs of families. I think a hallmark of our program is training as a complement to research and clinical intervention. For the last 32 years or so, we've done a 2-day training conference in Louisburg, Virginia. Usually the first Thursday and Friday of the month, we have professionals, usually over 200, come in to learn about new interventions and assessment approaches. And last year we held our first national caregiver's conference, specifically designed to help caregivers feel more effective in supporting their family members. And we're planning on doing another one. Our second annual is planned for this June, as well. Yeah, we train people in a number of different disciplines-- licensed professional counselors, social workers, occupational therapists, rehabilitation counselors, marriage and family therapists. And one way that we do that is by training them to use the brain injury family intervention. And they don't have to use it as a program-- five sessions, two hours--the way that we do. We teach them to use it in a way where they can use each of the modules-- whether it's on problem solving or stress reduction as a tool. So if they see a family that could benefit from one or many of the modules, they can spend a number of sessions and have a lot of handouts and materials to give to that family or families. And when we train people, a lot of times professionals want to know more about brain injury--common things that happen in families, common things that happen in couple's relationships, how to deal with that. And then another facet of our training has also been helping counselors and people of various disciplines deal with some of their toughest cases or their toughest issues-- knowing how to deal with complex issues that might involve suicide or homelessness or a diagnosis of schizophrenia of one of the family members before the injury, and so we also do a lot of problem solving and kind of case-based feedback, as well.

Dr. Jeffrey Kreutzer and Dr. Tayrn Strejskal talk about their work as teachers and doctors.

Posted on BrainLine March 16, 2010.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Brian King.