Family Intervention

The government recommends that families caring for a person with psychosis or bipolar disorder should receive support. This is usually offered to individual families, but might be done in groups. It usually involves the service user and people they are in close contact with.

What Happens in Family Interventions?

  • It starts with a meeting between therapists and the family (It can be one or two therapists who work with you)
  • All members of the family (including siblings) can attend but generally it involves those with regular contact with the person with psychosis/bipolar
  • The initial meeting will focus on the problems you are having and what you would like to change
  • Your family work together to set some goals and try to identify what needs to change to achieve these goals
  • Usually family and therapists would meet over a 6 to 12 month period. This might be fortnightly or weekly to start with and then less frequent over time

Case Study

Diane Williams – The People’s Therapist!

Sanjay, his parents and his 2 younger brothers attended our Family Sessions. After the introductory session, I met with them all separately so they could give their views on what the main problems were and what they would like to get out of our sessions.

Everyone identified cannabis as important. The common goal was to understand more about cannabis and why people use it. Sanjay was initially worried that the sessions might just lead to more arguments, but this goal sounded good to him. We discussed what everyone already knew about cannabis and then Sanjay explained why he used cannabis and what he felt were the pros and cons. This helped the rest of the family to understand that Sanjay was also worried about the impact of cannabis on his mental health, but that he found it really helpful in reducing his anxiety.

The family were very supportive towards Sanjay and expressed their sympathy for his anxiety. They all suggested alternatives to managing anxiety. I offered Sanjay some help with learning how to manage his anxiety. Sanjay was able to see that the conflict caused by the cannabis was a result of his parents concern for him. He agreed to try and cut down the cannabis use slowly if he could make some of the other strategies work.

How Do You Get Family Intervention?

Some Care Coordinators have specialist training in Family Interventions, or your Care Coordinator can refer you to a specialist service within the mental health services. Often there are waiting lists for this.

There are some books which explain what family intervention is in more detail. There are self help books and websites which offer step by step guides to overcome problems faced by family members. These are all listed in the Resource Directory.