Family Work

When a person experiences their first episode of psychosis, they are often living with family; and usually their family will have no knowledge or experience about how to help. This can lead to stress within the home and carers themselves can become unwell. Family work is about helping carers to support their loved ones, but a key part of this is recognising and supporting the needs of the carers, at what can often be a very difficult time.

So, what does ‘family work’ involve?

Family work involves listening to carers, and providing them with information, advice and support. This is available informally, by talking to the  care co-ordinator, or some teams have a specific carer link.

Family work is also offered through more structured approaches, such as group work and individual sessions

Families can also access Making Space which is charity organisation specifically for carers: Making Spaces Link

I feel that this group has been beneficial in understanding more about mental health in general. You find yourself in a caring role and more information is always useful.- Parent

Carer Groups

These often take place of an evening to accommodate people’s work commitments. The sessions provide opportunity to meet the team, as well as other relatives that have had similar experiences. They include discussion on different aspects of psychosis and the recovery process; but also guidance and advice for carers, such as overcoming difficulties with communication and feeling able to talk about sensitive issues.

Individual family work

These last up to approximately ten sessions; and usually involve two practitioners who have had additional training in ‘family work’ working with you at the home.

To start with, the person experiencing psychosis and each member of the family is given opportunity to speak to a worker on their own. Then together you will get chance to discuss what is working well and what help and support is needed. An important part of this discussion is everyone involved having opportunity to talk about their understanding of the illness; respecting each person’s perspective and developing a shared awareness.

Support can include:

  • Providing information about the illness, possible causes and treatment options.
  • Help with problem solving and communication skills.
  • Understanding ‘early warning signs’ to notice relapse; and know what to do when this happens.
  • Advice and guidance on getting any other support that may be needed.


Family work does not imply that there is something wrong with the family; the aim is to provide carers with the knowledge and support to help their relative. Research has shown that family work reduces the risk of relapse in clients and eases the burden of care for relatives.

© 2013 Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
Getting help is the right thing to do