Family Support Research

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
Division of Neuropsychology and Rehabilitation Psychology

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VCU Brain Injury Family Research Featured in the NY Times!

Happy New Year! We're excited to announce that we're starting off 2012 in a big way - with a New York Times article!

The NY Times spoke with both Dr. Jeffrey Kreutzer, designer of the Brain Injury Family Intervention, and Dr. Emilie Godwin, the Family Support Program Coordinator to the TBI Model Systems at VCU, about family and marriage counseling post-TBI. We're pleased to have this opportunity to bring attention to the interpersonal challenges facing survivors and their loved ones post-injury.

From the article:
"Dr. Kreutzer and other psychologists at V.C.U. are among the few therapists in the country trying to develop marriage counseling techniques tailored to couples dealing with brain injuries. Traditional marriage counselors often hope to restore people and their relationships to their original luster. For Dr. Kreutzer and his team, recovery often means teaching uninjured spouses to forge a relationship with a profoundly changed person — and helping injured spouses to accept that they are changed people.

The research is still in early stages, and in many ways the therapeutic toolbox is not much different from that of regular marriage counseling: Couples coping with a brain injury are taught to communicate better, to focus on positive developments and things they like about each other, and to set aside time to inject a little romance and fun into a life that can be consumed by doctors’ appointments and paperwork.

But other traditional techniques can backfire with these couples, the researchers have learned. For example, said Emilie Godwin, another V.C.U. psychologist, encouraging partners to remember what sparked their love in the first place can mean “highlighting the things that have probably been lost.”

“You’re asking people to just look forward, to not look back at all,” she said. “To try to recreate a relationship.”

The full article can be accessed here. A print version appeared in the January 10, 2012 edition of the New York Times in section D1 with the headline: When Injuries To the Brain Tear at Hearts.

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