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About Family Connections

Family Connections® is a 12-week course that meets weekly for two hours to provide education, skills training, and support for people who are in a relationship with someone who  experiences difficulties regulating emotions.  This can look like intense, changeable emotions, impulsive behaviours such as alcohol and drug use, binge eating, purging, gambling, violence, shoplifting, intense or unstable relationships and fears of being abandoned by others, feelings of emptiness and an unstable sense of self, suicide attempts, non-suicidal self-injury, fears of abandonment.  Focusing on issues that are specific to this, it is hosted in a community setting and led by trained group leaders who are usually family members of relatives with BPD. Mental health professionals may also help facilitate.  Alongside whanau members, Dr. Alan Fruzzetti and Dr. Perry Hoffman developed the course based on evidence-based therapy and their own research. . Family Connections provides: (i) Current information and research on emotional dysregulation and on family functioning; (ii) individual coping skills for whanau members to help them manage in the relationship ; (iii) family skills; and (iv) group support that builds an ongoing network for family members.

Family Connections is coordinated by the National Education Alliance for Borderline Personality Disorder (NEA.BPD) and is based on research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. It reflects a decade of family groups that are community based and led by trained family members and/or mental health professionals. Survey data from previous courses show that after completing the course, family members generally experience decreased feelings of depression, burden, and grief, and more feelings of empowerment.

“Hearing the personal stories from the parent Family Connections Leader – gave me hope” (whānau member, 2018 Family Connections group).

“I now understand the emotional dysregulation she is experiencing and how she just needs to have the space for her emotions to calm down and the validation from others of her emotions”. (whānau member, 2021 Family Connections group)

“I don’t try to fix everything anymore so I am not escalating things with her. Also she sees I am trying to understand and be supportive in an effective way”. (whānau member, 2021 Family Connections group)


Click here to contact someone in your region about Family Connections groups

For people who are interested in becoming Family Connections leaders, from time to time there is a Family Connections Leaders training (FCLT), which provides training and ongoing support to enable participants to lead Family Connections programs. Click here for information about FC leader’s training.