Date Completed

Spring 2015

Document Type

Masters Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Being a caregiver to a mentally ill spouse or partner can be emotionally draining and isolating. Many caregivers lack both knowledge and skill in dealing with the complex issues that arise from living with a mentally ill partner. They run the risk of a higher rate both subjective and objective burnout, face issues of stigma, and compassion fatigue. This support group curriculum was created to reduce the burden faced by caregivers as it seeks to strengthen these relationships. Academic research, as well as key informant interviews were conducted to create a eight week support group curriculum. Family systems theory concludes that the family unit is a social system and if the system shifts due to mental illness the impact on the caregiver can be severe. This curriculum focuses attention on the following issues: roles, tough conversations, isolation, “secrets you wish you could share”, burden, burnout, resiliency and self care. These areas of focus help to strengthen the marital relationship and help maintain the family unit, as well as provide the caregiver the tools to deal with difficult issues that arise due to caring for a spouse/partner with mental illness.


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