Mental Health Trainee Facilitation of Sibling Support Groups: Understanding its Influence on Views and Skills of Family-Centered Care

Acad Psychiatry. 2020 Jun;44(3):305-310. doi: 10.1007/s40596-019-01150-7. Epub 2019 Dec 17.


Objectives: Prior research suggests family-centered interventions are among the least taught yet most needed skills for practicing psychiatry. In this study, we evaluated whether having mental health trainees lead a sibling support group could serve as a method to promote family-centered care among trainees.

Methods: All trainees in psychiatry, psychology, and social work were invited to participate as sibling support group facilitators. Both facilitator and non-facilitator trainees were then surveyed using a questionnaire inquiring about exposure to family-centered care, comfort level in providing family-centered care, attitudes regarding the importance of family-centered care, and desire to provide family-centered care in the future. A second survey was administered to the facilitator trainees to assess their perceptions of the sibling group leader experience.

Results: Facilitator trainees reported increased engagement in family-centered activities during training (p < 0.05), expressed greater confidence in their family-centered care skills (p < 0.05), and reported stronger intentions to practice in a family-centered way (p < 0.05). Facilitator trainees were overwhelmingly positive about their experience with the sibling support program and reported it strengthened their commitment to addressing the needs of siblings as a part of family-centered care.

Conclusions: Facilitating a sibling support group may be an effective way for mental health trainees to gain skills and confidence in delivering family-centered care. Mental health training programs aiming to imbue trainees with the importance of family-centered care may consider creating opportunities for trainees to facilitate sibling support groups.

Keywords: Family-centered mental health care; Mental health training; Sibling support group.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Patient-Centered Care*
  • Psychiatry / education*
  • Self-Help Groups / trends*
  • Siblings / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires