Practicing psychologists possess a breadth of training and a blend of skills that allow them to provide a wide range of diagnostic, therapeutic and consultative services.
Psychologists’ Roles as Direct Service Clinicians
- Encourage family caregivers to appreciate and utilize their considerable strengths in assisting ill or disabled family members
- Urge family caregivers to mobilize their family and community networks of support in order to facilitate their caregiving efforts and share their caregiving burden
- Assess family caregivers for depression, anxiety, grief and exhaustion
- Provide psychoeducation to family caregivers about their loved one’s disability or illness and about the best means of sustaining themselves through the period of caregiving
- Offer individual, couples and family therapy to bolster caregiver strengths, foster improved family relationships, and decrease psychological symptoms
Practice Settings for Direct Service Clinicians
Clinical services for family caregivers are provided in many healthcare settings, including but not limited to private practices, community mental health centers, acute care hospitals, physical medicine rehabilitation hospitals/outpatient programs, pediatric hospitals, schools, nursing homes/retirement communities, primary care offices, military hospitals, transplant centers, geriatric assessment programs and specialized outpatient programs for autism, asthma, developmental disabilities, cancer, diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s dementia and other conditions.
Psychologists’ Roles as Consultants
As organizational consultants to agencies interested in providing services to family caregivers, psychologists:
- Increase the level of awareness among organizations of the importance of family caregivers to many institutional missions
- Provide education to organizational leaders and staff members about family caregiver needs, as well as general means for increasing caregiver support
- Make recommendations for changes in institutional policies and procedures to better support family members in their caregiving efforts
- Devise community support programs for family caregivers
Practice Settings for Consultants
Consultative practices are conducted in a broad range of healthcare, social service, religious and business settings, including but not limited to hospice programs, Area Agencies on Aging, home healthcare agencies, human resource departments of major corporations, long-term care facilities, schools, churches, disease-specific advocacy and support organizations, and governmental agencies.
Regardless of the specific service they’re providing or the practice context, psychologists’ efforts are guided by three basic principles:
- Psychologists strive to understand the emotional, biomedical, psychosocial and spiritual factors that impact family caregivers’ behaviors and outlooks. They aim to understand and integrate into their care the particular expectations, customs and cultural norms that shape the caregiving experiences of each unique family.
- Psychologists, when possible, use evidence-based or emerging best practices. They utilize sound assessment instruments for determining family caregivers’ mood, sense of burden and overall functioning. They employ empirical methods for critically evaluating the efficacy of interventions intended to support family caregivers.
- Psychologists know that family caregivers often interact with multiple practitioners from different healthcare and social service disciplines. As members of these interdisciplinary treatment teams, psychologists strive to work effectively with other professionals in a respectful, collaborative manner.