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West London NHS Trust > Patients and carers > Treatments and medication > Family therapy

Family therapy

A person with a mental illness can find it very supportive to have their family understand their illness, give encouragement, and assist them with everyday life. A family therapist helps both the person with the mental illness and those closest to them to understand each other’s feelings and resolve practical day-to-day issues. Family therapy sessions can include carers and friends as well as relatives.

Support for the family

Sometimes, family and friends can find the behaviour of a relative with a mental illness difficult, overbearing and exhausting. This is normal yet they may be confused by the way they feel and experience emotions ranging from guilt to anger and resentment. A family therapist helps a family understand these reactions.
Whilst the therapy supports the family, it is also beneficial for the person with the mental illness since it is not uncommon for them to feel an unfair responsibility for what the family is experiencing. This can lead to anxiety and depression, and exasperate the symptoms of their mental illness.
A family may also be unsure about how best to support their relative, and this can be discussed in the therapy sessions so that everyone feels confident and positive. Through the family therapy, both the person with the mental illness and their family are shown how to support each other.

Understanding the mental illness

It is often the case that family and friends don’t understand a person’s illnesses or recognise symptoms. With the help of the family therapist, a person can explain and talk openly about their diagnosis and symptoms, and the specific support they would like to have from family and friends.

Family therapy at WLMHT

A WLMHT family therapist mediates the sessions so that all family members can have their say, be listened to and have their feelings and wishes respected.
At the same time, the person with the mental illness has a safe environment in which to say how they would like to be supported and explain what they need to maintain control over their life and realise their potential.