This work is the most comprehensive volume to focus on new directions in professional practice with families of people with mental illness. It offers a multidisciplinary systems-oriented examination of theory, research, and practice in the area. Unique features include a consideration of life-span and family system and subsystem perspectives, as well as the inclusion of powerful personal accounts of family members. It is written from the perspective of a competence paradigm for clinical practice, which offers a constructive alternative to the more prevalent pathology models of the past. In the era following deinstitutionalization, families often have served as an extension of the mental health system. There is much evidence that the needs of families are often poorly met. In response to the shortcomings of the system and to their own anguish, families have become increasingly assertive in articulating their needs for respect, support, information, skills, resources, and services. This volume is designed to provide professionals with increased understanding of the experiences and needs of families, as well as with concrete suggestions for enhancing their effectiveness in meeting those needs. The first three chapters are designed to explore general issues related to the family experience and family-professional relationships, the conceptual and empirical context, and new directions in professional practice. The next six chapters provide the experiential core of the volume, covering such topics as life-span perspectives, the subjective and objective burden, the family system, family subsystems, coping and adaptation, and the needs of families. The final three chapters are concerned withintervention, including nonclinical strategies that are designed primarily to educate and support families, and clinical strategies that are designed primarily to provide treatment. The nonclinical and clinical intervention strategies that are discussed have the potential to comprise a full continuum of family-oriented services that can be tailored to the needs, desires, and resources of particular families. The final chapter is concerned with intervention on the level of the mental health system.