NPR Shots discusses the plethora of new programs for early intervention for psychosis, with a focus on Ventura Early Intervention Prevention Services, operated by Alameda-based Telecare Corp. “VIPS is one of a handful of programs that have sprung up in California in recent years, based on a model developed in Maine by psychiatrist Dr. Bill McFarlane,” reports NPR.
“McFarlane believes that psychosis can be prevented with a range of surprisingly low-tech interventions, almost all of which are designed to reduce stress in the family of the young person who is starting to show symptoms,” reports NPR. “McFarlane cites research done at UCLA suggesting that certain kinds of family dynamics — families that don’t communicate well, or are overly critical — can make things worse for a young person at risk of schizophrenia.”
“Our theory,” McFarlane tells NPR, “was that if you could identify these young people early enough, you could alter some of those family patterns. Then you could work with the family to start behaving not just normally, but in a way that was smarter.”
The programs involve twice-monthly multifamily group therapy sessions, and early prescribing of antipsychotic drugs. “McFarlane himself is careful about recommending antipsychotic medications,” says NPR. “But in programs inspired by his model, the drugs appear to be widely prescribed, including in clients as young as 10 or 13.”
Halting Schizophrenia Before It Starts (NPR Shots, October 20, 2014)