This study found that although rarely embedded as a core service option available to all mental health service users, some family inclusive practice activity was taking place in many areas in England. Four distinct practice models were identified as being offered in one of more geographical areas: Systemic family therapy; behavioural family therapy; family group conferencing; integrated systemic / behavioural approach; the accounts elicited from service users and (independently) from family members and practitioners demonstrated that whole family approaches can contribute to the reablement of people with mental health difficulties – although no one approach worked for everybody in all situations. In turn, reablement outcomes were closely associated with reported improvements in wellbeing; case studies suggested different mechanisms of change both between models and for different families receiving the same service model. Where they were successful, whole family approaches enabled the family to provide a more effective ‘safe base’ from which service users could venture outwards and (re)engage with mainstream community life.

Can whole family approaches contribute to the reablement of people with mental health difficulties?
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