Family-Directed Cognitive Adaptation Research Study

Principal Investigator: Michelle Friedman-Yakoobian, Ph.D.

Co-Investigators: Anthony Giuliano, Ph.D., Larry Seidman, Ph.D., and Donald Goff, M.D.

Project advisors: Kim Mueser, Ph.D., Susan McGurk, Ph.D.

Study Overview

The Family-Directed Cognitive Adaptation Program (FCA) is a treatment research program for patients and families aimed at helping individuals with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder improve their independent living skills. Dr. Friedman-Yakoobian has obtained funding through an NIMH T32 Fellowship (The Clinical Research Training Program) and the Peter J. Livingston Fellowship Award to develop this program and to investigate its acceptability and feasibility, and to collect preliminary outcome data.

What is the FCA research study?

People diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder may experience thinking difficulties that interfere with daily functioning. For example, many people who experience schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder have trouble with memory, attention, or organizing and planning. These difficulties can make it hard to live independently and manage daily tasks such as caring for personal hygiene, traveling around town, managing time, planning leisure activities, working or finishing school.

The FCA Program helps patients and their families understand the real life effects of thinking difficulties and learn strategies to improve personal, social, academic, and work functioning.

The FCA program is based on similar programs that have been found to be helpful for individuals who experience thinking difficulties related to a brain injury. These programs emphasize the use of strategies known as "positive behavioral supports," or the use of environmental supports (such as signs, reminder alarms, or organizational tools) to help a person overcome the effects of thinking difficulties on daily functioning.

FCA Goals

The FCA Program aims to help patients and families to:

  • Learn about thinking difficulties and their impact on personal, social, academic, and work functioning.
  • Improve functioning of patients in one or more of these areas by learning and practicing skills for dealing with and overcoming thinking difficulties (like attention, memory, and organization problems).
  • Teach families to act as positive coaches for learning and using new skills.
  • Enhance family relationships by promoting independence of patients and reducing reliance on families for help with daily activities.

What does the FCA research study involve?

  • A comprehensive assessment of the patient, including an evaluation of neuropsychological functioning and independent living skills
  • Development of a personalized plan for identifying and practicing skills for improving personal, social, academic, or work functioning
  • 16 single-family counseling sessions aimed at learning and practicing new skills
  • Patients and family members participate in interviews before starting the FCA Program, at the end of the program, and 3 and 6 months after FCA ends
  • This program is available at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and the Massachusetts General Hospital Freedom Trail Clinic.

Who can participate?

  • Individuals who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, or schizophreniform disorder who live with at least one family member who is also interested in participating.
  • Participants must be at least 18 years old.
  • Participants cannot have dementia, neurodegenerative disease, pervasive developmental disorder, or be recovering from a traumatic brain injury.
  • Participants cannot be currently dependent on street drugs or alcohol.

For more information, contact:

Michelle Friedman-Yakoobian, Ph.D.
Phone: 617-626-9357