Family Therapy – an information leaflet

Family Therapists offer therapeutic support to individuals who are troubled by a mental health problem and to their relatives or others who are close to them (for instance, partners or close friends).

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  • Who is in the family team?

    We are a small group of Family Therapists who offer therapeutic support to individuals who are troubled by a mental health problem and to their relatives or others who are close to them (for instance, partners or close friends).

  • What does the team do?

    When a person is experiencing mental health problems this will also have an impact on the lives of those who care about them. This may include a partner, relatives, close friends and important others. The family team aims to offer meetings where those who are concerned about the situation can talk together in a relaxed manner. These meetings focus on people’s strengths and on finding new ways of approaching difficulties and moving forward.

    We recognise that the distress that people feel in their personal and family lives is often related to social injustices. Therefore, we aim to work in a way that recognises the influence of gender, age, race, culture, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and disability.

  • How can family meetings help?

    There is a well established body of research showing that family meetings can be helpful in a variety of ways. These might include:
    • Sharing ideas and information
    • Thinking together about new ways of understanding and dealing with problems and symptoms
    • Discussing hopes and plans for the future
    • Drawing upon family members’ knowledge and experience
    • Providing support to family members who are under stress

  • What happens during the family meetings?

    The meetings provide an opportunity to talk together with the family worker about things that are causing concern. The family worker aims to talk with people in a way that feels relaxed and safe, and which helps to think about things differently and find new ways of tackling difficulties.

    When working with families we can find it very helpful to work as a small team of therapists (2-3) as this can increase the range of ideas available in finding a way forward. One member of the team will talk with you while one or two others listen. Then you will have the opportunity to listen and comment on the reflections and ideas that team members will share with you.

    Everyone’s situation is unique so there is no set plan for the discussion. Family meetings generally last an hour. There might be a single meeting, or they might occur regularly for a while. This will depend on the needs and preferences of the people involved. We will discuss the option of a team with you prior to your first appointment.

    The team would be happy to discuss any questions at the meetings.

  • Who can come to the meetings?

    We believe that it is often helpful for the whole family or all of those who are concerned about the situation to come together. At the same time, it is important that people don’t feel pressurised to take part, and the meetings can still be extremely helpful when not everyone is present.

    The team can also offer appointments to individuals and to couples who are seeking help with the impact of a mental health problem on their relationships or family life.

  • Where do they take place?

    Family meetings take place within various locations across the Trust. You will be invited to attend your nearest service or home visits can be an option. Should you be unable to attend this venue, please contact us to discuss this further.

  • Confidentiality boundaries

    As part of our assessment process, and to help us plan your care, whilst in treatment, we need to gather information. It is sometimes also necessary to share information about you with other people involved in your care and appropriate colleagues within this team. The purpose of this is to ensure that we are able to make the most beneficial decisions about your care. At the point of assessment and again if you begin treatment with us, you will be asked to consent to this. Under normal circumstances we will not share information about you without your consent. Another way in which your case will at times be discussed is with appropriate colleagues within the team for the purpose of supervision. All of our therapists are supervised. This is to ensure high professional standards are continually being met. Again, we will ask your consent for this. Any information gathered will be kept in your Health Record (written or computerised). We have a duty to keep information about you private and confidential. As such, your Health Record will be required to be stored safely and securely. Also, we will only seek or share information that will be relevant to your assessment and helpful in planning your care. Where we seek or share information, those colleagues will be bound by the same rules of confidentiality.

  • Exception to the rule

    There are certain circumstances when it does become necessary to share information without your consent, in accordance with Trust policy, common law obligations and the Data Protection Act (2018). Where there is a concern that you, a child or young person or other person are at risk of harm we are legally bound to share this with other appropriate professionals and this can be done without your consent. If possible, however, we would strive to discuss this with you first of all. The information shared will be kept to the minimum necessary and will be handled under the terms of the NHS Confidentiality Code of Practice.

  • High standards of professional conduct

    All our therapists act according to professional codes of conduct. You should be assured that your therapist will always be sensitive, respectful and non-judgemental.

  • Interpreters

    If we would benefit from the use of an interpreting service when meeting you, please let us know and we will make arrangements.

  • Travel information

    Contact Nexus Traveline: Tel: 0871 200 22 33

  • Further information

    If you have any questions please ring us or speak to your Care Co-ordinator.

    You can find out more about how Family Therapists work by visiting the Association of Family Therapists website

  • What if I have a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint about the service?

    If you want to make a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint you can:
    • talk to the people directly involved in your care
    • ask a member of staff for a feedback form, or complete a form on the Trust website (click on the ‘Contact Us’ tab)
    • telephone the Complaints Department 0191 245 6672
    • email Please note that information sent to the Trust via email is sent at your own risk
    • We are always looking at ways to improve services. Your feedback allows us to monitor the quality of our services and act upon issues that you bring to our attention.
    You can provide feedback in the following ways:
    – the quickest way for you to do this is to complete our short online survey at
    – complete a Points of You survey, available from staff.

  • Useful contacts

    Your local GP surgery should be able to provide self-help or information leaflets about CBT. Please contact us if you would like a list of related reading materials or if you would like us to send you any further information. In the meantime, if you have access to the internet, here are some useful websites:
    Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
    Self help guides, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
    British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapists
    Royal College of Psychiatrists
    Beating the Blues – a computerised CBT programme for depression and anxiety
    National Institute for Health and Care Excellence
    (information on PTSD and its treatments).
    Mind factsheets
    • Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)
    – North of Tyne Tel: 0800 032 02 02
    – South of Tyne Tel: 0800 328 4397

  • Other useful organisations

    Anderson House, Market Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6XA
    Tel: 0191 233 0382
    A local service user led group.

    Recovery College Collective (Re-Co-Co)
    Anderson House, Market Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 6XA
    Tel: 0191 261 0948

    • OCD Support Group
    Tel: 0191 477 8310 or 0191 226 8776
    Open to anyone over the age of 18 who has OCD or suffers from an OC spectrum disorder such as compulsive skin picking or BDD (Body Dysmorphic Disorder). The group meets every Monday 6pm – 9pm (except Bank Holidays) at Molineux Street NHS Centre, Molineux Street, Heaton Park Road (Shields Road end), Byker, NE6 1SG.

    • If you need urgent help with your mental health or learning disability, you can contact:
    – Northumberland Initial Response Team (for people living in Northumberland and North Tyneside) Tel: 0303 123 1146 or freephone 0800 652 2861

    – South of Tyne Initial Response Service (for people living in Sunderland and South Tyneside) Tel: 0303 123 1145 or freephone 0800 652 2867

    – Crisis Resolution and Home Treatment Team (for people living in Newcastle and Gateshead) Tel: 0191 814 8899 or Freephone 0800 652 2863

    – Cumbria Crisis (for people living in North Cumbria) 0300 123 9015 or freephone 0800 652 2865

    • MIND infoline 0300 123 3393 (9am-6pm, Monday to Friday)
    • SANEline 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm-10.30pm, every day)
    • Rethink Mental illness Advice Line 0300 5000 927 (9.30am-4pm, Monday to Friday

    • Recovery College contact details
    – Newcastle: 0191 261 0948
    – South Tyneside: 0191 427 0011
    – Sunderland: 0191 553 2255
    – Durham: 0191 384 3895
    – Durham: 0191 441 5738

  • Contact details

    Kevin Hawkes
    Family Therapist
    Centre for Specialist Psychological Therapies
    Benfield House, Benfield Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 4PF
    Tel: 0191 287 6100

    Joanne Patterson
    Psychological therapist in family Interventions/Family Therapist
    Early Intervention in Psychosis Service
    1 Benton View, Forest Hall, Newcastle, NE12 7JJ
    Tel: 0191 287 6100

    Sunderland and South Tyneside
    Graeme Smith
    Clinical Lead OT and Family Therapist
    Houghton Day Unit, Hetton Road, Houghton Le Spring, DH5 8NB
    Tel: 0303 123 1145

    Emily Barber
    Psychological Therapist in Family Interventions
    Sunderland Early Intervention in Psychosis Service
    Wellfield Day Unit, Ryhope, Sunderland, SR2 0NB
    Tel: 0303 123 1145

    North and South Tyneside
    John Simons
    Psychological Therapist in Family Interventions/Family Therapist
    Community Treatment Team (CTT)
    First Floor, Palmer Community Hospital
    Wear Street, Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, NE32 3UX
    Tel: 0191 287 6100

    Caroline Waugh
    Psychological Therapist in Family Interventions
    Gateshead CTT and Early Intervention in Psychosis Service
    Dryden Education Centre, Evistones Road, Gateshead, NE9 5UR
    Tel: 0191 287 6100

    Estelle Clinton
    Family Therapist
    Northumberland CTT
    Greenacres Centre, Green Lane, Ashington, NE63 8BL
    Tel: 0191 287 6100

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    Published by the Patient Information Centre
    2021 Copyright, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
    Ref, PIC/570/0121 January 2021 V7 Tel: 0191 246 7288
    Review date 2024