Holistic Centre for Body, Mind & Spirit


Family and Systemic Psychotherapy, also known as Family Therapy, aims to work as far as possible in partnership with adults and children. Family and systemic psychotherapists work to build on family members’ understanding and to develop their strengths and resources to enable individuals to support each other. Practitioners have the skills to deliver high quality interventions to families experiencing serious problems. They aim to identify and challenge family difficulties and the damaging behaviours that may lie behind child and adult distress. Their aim is to support family members towards recovery.

Mental health and other concerns are frequently associated with relational difficulties. Relationships can sometimes fuel problems and eventually break down under strain. Yet close relationships can also help people recover from difficulties and improve their lives.

Family therapy is effective across an extraordinarily wide range of problems and circumstances including:

  • Problems with attention and over-activity
  • Self-harm
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual abuse
  • Parental separation and divorce
  • Eating distress
  • Physical health problems in the family
  • Addiction
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Adolescent difficulties
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Step-family reintegration

Family practitioners work to use the strengths, wisdom and understanding of people in close relationships. These are considered a resource, which supports wellbeing, develops resilience and encourages recovery from problems. Practitioners adopt a culturally sensitive stance to clients.

A telephone consultation lasting up to 30 minutes will be offered to establish if family appointments are likely to be of use. There is no charge for this initial discussion.

All individuals living at home in the family unit will be invited to attend appointments. Family members may wish to bring extended family members or other significant people to the sessions by group agreement. Before attending a first appointment a questionnaire will be sent to the key individuals to complete to help practitioners think about how the family functions together and what each individual’s hopes and goals are for family work.

Family appointments last an hour. There will be two practitioners working with the family during the session. The practitioners will also meet for 15 minutes pre and post session to think about and understand each family member and develop a unique psychological and systemic formulation of presenting difficulties. This will be included in the session price. Weekly or fortnightly appointments can be arranged as required. The number of sessions needed can vary considerably. The assessment stage of therapy may take two or three sessions. Goals will be reviewed after every six sessions. Therapeutic letters with a summary of discussions may be sent after a session. Sessions may involve talking, art, craft or other creative activities to meet the needs of individual families and the therapeutic aims.

Confidentiality is fundamental and is only ever broken by practitioners if a member of the family is considered to be at serious risk of harm. Practitioners’ professional responsibility requires adherence to the codes of conduct and ethics of AFT (Association of Family Therapy) and HPC (Health Professionals Council).

One of Anam Cara’s practitioners says, “I am a clinical psychologist, working within the NHS and private practice. I have ten years post-qualification experience working predominately with children and families and have worked within a Family Therapy Service for the past nine years. I believe working with families to address the emotional and psychological distress that children may present with is a powerful and effective way of working. I believe I can empower the parents/carers who are the most significant people in the child's life. The distress is usually experienced by all those in the family unit at some level and this is the purpose of intervening at a systemic level. Intervening early in a child's development can also prevent further, more entrenched difficulties and this is perhaps my main reason for wanting to work with children and young people.”

Another of Anam Cara’s practitioners says. “I am a family and systemic psychotherapist and a clinical nurse specialist currently working in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) within the NHS and I also work privately with families. Prior to my experience of working with children and young people I worked with adults with mental health difficulties in an in-patient setting as well as in the community. I see families as small, unique communities and like all communities they sometimes have difficulties. I believe family therapy helps families work through their difficulties by enabling members to explore thoughts and emotions in a safe and therapeutic environment. I feel it builds on family strengths and resources.

“I embrace spirituality as an important part of my life, and see families and human life as having the infinite potential to grow and change. I believe our lives are deeply and fundamentally intertwined with the lives of others, and by allowing our stories to be told it enables us to find our strengths and abilities to overcome relational problems.”