Taking a family-centred approach to mental health care
The FamilyPsycle Lab is preparing future clinicians to offer trauma-informed family therapy
The FamilyPsycle Lab is preparing future clinicians to offer trauma-informed family therapyBy Zoe Tipper Faculty of Arts
With growing awareness about mental health challenges, Dr. Dillon Browne's FamilyPsycle Lab has carved a unique path. Recognizing a gap in Canada's predominantly individual-focused mental health landscape, FamilyPsycle integrates a family-centric perspective into mental health-care services.
By adopting a holistic approach, the lab addresses the intricate and complex influences shaping mental health — from genetic vulnerabilities and socio-cultural factors to profound life adversities.
“We fit our treatments to the complexity of family life, rather than trying to fit families into our treatments,” Browne says. The lab is located in a shared clinic, the Centre for Mental Health Research and Treatment, that offers services to children and families in Waterloo region.
For many families, traumas stemming from war or natural disasters introduces a multidimensional challenge. It’s not just about the overt repercussions like loss or violence, but also the nuances like separation from loved ones and disrupted routines. Browne asserts that we shouldn't make assumptions about trauma as each family’s experience is distinct. Rather, treatments must be tailored to reflect trauma’s multi-faceted nature.
FamilyPsycle harnesses psychological, epidemiological and clinical methodologies to explore the intersection between relationships, mental health and adversity. By collecting extensive data, Browne and his team trace connections between mental health and family challenges, preparing future clinicians for trauma-informed family therapy. This innovative approach optimizes resources in our stressed health-care system and broadens its impact beyond the lab's confines.
“By training clinicians in family therapy, we can reach more people in the scope of a single intervention.”
Browne has a clear vision for the future: building a health-care system that inherently values the family unit. As the world becomes more technologically adept, he emphasizes the need for advances such as AI-assisted therapy, to stay rooted in evidence-based practices and ethical innovation.
In the advancing landscape of health care, Browne's FamilyPsycle Lab stands as a testament to innovation, resilience and the unwavering commitment to bettering family mental health care.
The University of Waterloo acknowledges that much of our work takes place on the traditional territory of the Neutral, Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee peoples. Our main campus is situated on the Haldimand Tract, the land granted to the Six Nations that includes six miles on each side of the Grand River. Our active work toward reconciliation takes place across our campuses through research, learning, teaching, and community building, and is co-ordinated within the Office of Indigenous Relations.