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Family Involvement

Family Involvement at The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center

Sylvia Brafman is grateful for your support and looks forward to helping your loved one navigate the path to mental well-being. Integration of the family into the one’s treatment is the “Crown Jewel” of Sylvia Brafman. This page is intended to provide some basic information as your loved one enters treatment, address some frequently asked questions, and recommend best practices.

Family Communication with Loved One

We believe that while the patient is the one inside a physical treatment center, the entire support group goes through treatment alongside him or her – effectively entering a ‘virtual wing’ of The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center. The identified patient is typically only one piece of the puzzle; exploring family systems, incorporating support members into Family Night, and ensuring families are equipped to withstand the ups and downs of treatment is essential. The family often gets sick and wounded alongside the patient, and we are here to be of maximum service as it relates to helping you explore your own mental wellness.

The communication protocol is backed in clinical philosophy and is enforced to help the patient stay focused and eliminate distractions. Relative to other treatment centers, Sylvia Brafman is quite liberal on the amount of communication that occurs with families, which goes together with our intimate culture. We find it necessary to enforce boundaries and limit communication with the patient to the following:

  • Admission: A “safe call” to let the family know the patient has arrived safely (assuming a Release of Information has been signed), followed by a 5-day “blackout period.”
      • This “blackout period” is not intended to be punitive, but rather to give the patient time to calibrate themselves to the community, to eliminate distractions and keep the focus on themselves, and to reduce the chance of leaving against medical advice (AMA). We are also sensitive to the fact that families may need a “break” as well.
  • Phase System: Patients are granted additional privileges as they progress through treatment, which includes greater access to technology as assignments are completed and mental wellness is increasingly attained.
  • Weekly family touchpoints with primary therapist: Following the blackout period, we will help facilitate family touchpoints (up to 30-minute calls or Zooms) at least once per week with the patient’s primary therapist.
  • Phone Calls: Outside of family sessions and one’s personal phone once access is granted via the Phase system, phone calls are permitted from the residence with therapist approval.
  • Family Night: Family night will take place on Thursday night from 5:30-7:30pm. We invite families that are local to come into the center for this; a Zoom link will also be sent for those that would prefer to join virtually.

Best Practices for Family Members

A few best practices include the following:

  • Trust the process – Mental resilience and recovery is not an overnight phenomenon. Trust that the patient is in good hands with a fantastic clinical and medical team overseeing their process.
  • Expect volatility – There will be ups and downs. They may come at seemingly random times. Our experience confirms that the “downs” are not necessarily bad; we often grow more through our struggles and discomfort than through our successes. Please get used to taking patient feedback with a “grain of salt.” Many patients are complex, and a number of internal and external factors can drive the lulls. We are familiar with all these factors and are keeping a close eye on everyone’s progress daily.
  • Defer to the clinical team – We often feel, for good reason, that we know what’s best for our children, spouses, etc. Become accustomed to the fact that “we don’t know what we don’t know.” There may be times where you disagree with our approach. Rest assured that everything we do is grounded in research and decades of experience.
  • Communicate with staff effectively – The best form of communication is e-mail. This is the best way to ensure boundaries are respected, communication and to-do items don’t slip through the cracks, and operational efficiency is maintained. Texting can be overwhelming for our staff and often disrupts the flow of treatment. Ensure you are contacting the appropriate contact when reaching out (more details below).

Family Night

We place great emphasis on the family dynamic and incorporating support members in treatment. This not only helps us see the entire landscape in which the patient operates, but provides greater context on the patient’s life, behaviors, thinking, attributes, and shortcomings. As such, Family Night is a critical part of the recovery process at Sylvia Brafman. This night is often filled with laughs, tears, and everything in between. Ben Brafman, co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer, facilitates family night personally.

We do not sugar coat the reality of mental illness in our family program.  We cover the good, the bad and the ugly.  We educate the family as well as process real thoughts and feelings that in many cases have never been addressed.  The emotional truth that comes out of the family program is a unique experience and one that saves lives.  Ben Brafman has watched his family program evolve from a co-dependent educational group with an attendance of 10 to an interactive engaging arena with as many as 50 families in attendance over the years.

Family Night is typically held Thursday nights at 5:30pm ET. We encourage those who are local to attend in person and expect that many of you will be attending virtually through Zoom. Please let us know which family members will be attending by informing your loved one’s primary therapist following admission.


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