Within mental health services, families and practitioners are increasingly working in partnership although their is still room for improvement. Equal, true partnerships demand trust, safety, willingness and co-operation. There is a large amount of research that supports the necessity of working with families - and professionals need to recognize the importance of engaging with families.

The decision not to work with a family of an individual service user should be carefully considered. There are occasions when family work is not a option and this should be acknowledged. Sometimes ethical or legal issues may influence this decision. Sometimes it is not only an issue of willingness, but resources, like time, may also negatively influence our decisions to work with families. When we work with families, we are actually providing promotive and preventive mental health care at the same time and ultimately more resources might be saved in the future. So it is time well-spent.

Good interaction skills are required when working with families, like in all mental health care. The challenge when working with families comes from the amount of relationships that exist within the family. This is not a negative issue, but adds to the richness of the work.

In this eLearning material we have provided you with a glimpse of an interaction with the Smith family. The interaction skills presented here do not need specialized education as a family worker or family therapist, but can be implemented by anyone working with families.

Problems in this family were not clinically estimated to be very serious, but from the family's viewpoint they were already affecting their daily life and increasing their worries. The animations gave us information only from the first meeting and hopefully co-operation with the Smith family continues.

We do hope that you are now encouraged to work with families and to learn more all the time. Information provided here was only a small "taster" to the large amount of knowledge that is available when working with families.

More information concerning carer and mental health issues cam be found at the following links:

There are also online courses available for carers:

The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.