Family therapy for schizophrenia: cultural challenges and implementation barriers in the South African context

  • L Asmal
  • S Mall
  • J Kritzinger
  • B Chiliza
  • R Emsley
  • L Swartz
Keywords: Schizophrenia, Family therapy, South Africa, Culture


Family therapy is an effective, evidence based intervention for schizophrenia. This literature review explores the impact of culture on family therapy as a treatment model for schizophrenia and examines how cultural beliefs impact on access to care. Although there is a good deal of evidence to suggest that certain principles of family therapy such as empathy and psycho-education are universal, there is a paucity of literature about the role of culture in designing family interventions for people living with schizophrenia in a culturally diverse setting such as South Africa. It is well acknowledged that cultural ideologies influence families’ belief systems of schizophrenia, expected expressed emotion, and levels of stigma in relation to mental illness. Additionally, in adapting models designed for first-world settings, consideration needs to be given to aspects such as language, educational level and accessibility of mental health care facilities. Family therapists are increasingly recognising the need for the study and implementation of evidence based culture-relevant and culture-responsive therapeutic techniques. These techniques need to be cost-effective and will require training, supervision, staff support, and management input in order to become generally available.

Keywords: Schizophrenia; Family therapy; South Africa; Culture


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1994-8220