Book Review: ‘The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia’ Teaches Relatives How to Help


Schizophrenia can be a scary diagnosis for people and their family members worried they won’t be able to live a normal life. The authors of The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia encourage readers to maintain hope, even in the face of a schizophrenia diagnosis.

Authors Kim T. Mueser, PhD, and Susan Gingerich, MSW, have crafted a thorough, practical guide for helping a loved one with schizophrenia, while also nurturing healthy family relationships. At nearly 500 pages, this is a reference book that you may find yourself turning to time and time again.

Sections of this handy guide include:

  • An Overview of Schizophrenia: What is schizophrenia? How is it diagnosed? What treatment options are out there? This section is designed to educate you on what schizophrenia is all about.

  • Special Issues for Family Members: Life as a parent, sibling, spouse or child of a person with schizophrenia can be tough. You’ll deal with issues that other families don’t necessarily face. This part of the book addresses those issues, your feelings toward them and ways to address them.

  • Preventing Relapses: Recovery is not a one-time end goal. Continued therapy and management are important for staying well. By practicing mental health coping techniques and setting a plan in place before relapses rear their heads, it will be easier for your loved one to maintain progress.

  • Creating a Supportive Environment: The setup of your home life can make a big difference in your relative’s well-being. Here, you’ll learn about communicating clearly, working out problems and establishing guidelines for family life.

  • Coping with Specific Problems: People with schizophrenia often deal with other problems, such as anxiety, anger, drug abuse and depression. This section goes into detail on these issues and ways to deal with them.

  • Improving Quality of Life: Can life be good for people diagnosed with schizophrenia? Yes, say the authors. With the help of family members and a good plan in place, your loved one can learn to build friendships, hold a job and live independently. This section will not only help you work together to develop such a plan, but will also challenge you to see a positive future for your relative.

The usefulness of this book extends beyond just the plethora of factual information it provides. Other invaluable features include:

  • Practical tips that you can apply to your own situation.

  • Real-life examples of other families dealing with a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

  • Activity ideas, such as role play scenarios.

  • Worksheets that will help you and your loved one put into practice the advice in the book.

  • Thorough lists of resources, such as books, articles, movies and support organizations, at the end of each chapter.

Schizophrenia can feel overwhelming, but Mueser and Gingerich encourage families to hold on to hope for a good life for their loved ones, and they arm readers with the tools for achieving such an outcome.