Family Focused Practice in Mental Health Care: An Integrative Review

Kim Foster, Darryl Maybery, Andrea Reupert, Brenda Gladstone, Anne Grant, Torleif Ruud, Adrian Falkov, Nick Kowalenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)
1760 Downloads (Pure)


While mental health services are increasingly encouraged to engage in family-focused practice, it is a nebulous and poorly understood term. The aim of this paper was to examine and synthesize evidence on the concept and scope of family-focused practice in adult and child and youth mental health care settings. An integrative literature review method was used. Medline, Embase, CINAHL, PsycInfo and Proquest electronic databases were systematically searched forabstracts published in English between 1994-2014. Data were extracted and constant comparative analysis conducted with 40 included articles. Family-focused practice was conceptualised variously depending on who was included in the „family‟, whether the focus was family of origin or family of procreation, and the context of practice. As a finding of the review, six core and inter-related family-focused practices were identified: family care planning andgoal-setting; liaison between families and services; instrumental, emotional and social support; assessment; psychoeducation; and a coordinated system of care between families and services. While family is a troubled concept, „family‟ as defined by its members forms a basis for practice that is oriented to providing a „whole of family‟ approach to care. In order to strengthen familymembers‟ wellbeing and improve their individual and collective outcomes, key principles and practices of family-focused practice are recommended for clinicians and policy makers across mental health settings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-155
JournalChild and Youth Services
Issue number2
Early online date04 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Integrative review; family-focused practice; child and adolescent; adult; mental

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