Family Therapy UK

Getting Extra Help (United Kingdom)


This page will give you some ideas about how to get help and support for you and your family.

Getting help from your partner, relatives and friends

If you have a partner, try talking things over with them first to see what they think about the situation.  It's sometimes difficult to talk to immediate family but your parents or other family members may be able to help if you ask them.  If this is not possible, talk to a trusted friend to see if they have faced similar family difficulties or situations

If you are separated or divorced and the other parent has contact with the children, ask them whether they experience similar difficulties with the children and how they manage it.

Sometimes there is no one else available to talk to or the talking with friends and family doesn't help. In this case you may need professional help. Families, including yours, are important to the future of our community.  That is why services have been set up to help you. You have a right and responsibility to ask for help when you need it.

Professional bodies, voluntary bodies, local support groups, churches, libraries

There are many voluntary organisations such as the NSPCC, Gingerbread, MENCAP, Parent Link, RELATE The National Autistic Society and others that may have local support groups in your area.  See the bottom of this page for a list of useful websites where you can get help on a variety of issues. Contact any of these organisations to ask if they can help.  If you contact a voluntary organisation and they offer help, ask about their qualifications and any fees they may charge before you get involved.  Many churches offer support groups and specialist services too.

Your local library and the Citizen's Advice Service will have information about many services and voluntary organisations in your area.

Counsellors, Family Therapists and Psychotherapists

If you or your family need psychological help ask your GP if you can be referred to a qualified counsellor, family psychotherapist or individual psychotherapist within the NHS. These therapists are often based in CAMHS teams (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.) Adult counsellors are often based in GP surgeries and in Adult Mental Health Services.

If you want to see a professional therapist privately, there are a number of professional organisations who can direct you to qualified and accredited therapists.  The United Kingdom for Psychotherapy (UKCP) will allow you to check if a therapist is accredited.  To gain accreditation a therapist must satisfy a number of conditions including holding recognised qualifications, undertake on-going professional development and have regular professional supervision.  The professional body for family therapy in the UK is the Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice UK (AFT).  The professional body for counselling is the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).

Seeing a therapist privately will be quite expensive, so enquire about their fees before you proceed with therapy. You can see my fees here.

Schools and Education Authorities

If you have concerns about your child's educational attainment, or any other school worries such as if your child is having emotional difficulties at school, is being bullied, does not want to attend or has been missing school without permission, contact the school and let them know. Contact their teacher and discuss your worries with them first. 

In secondary schools the Year Head is often the best person to speak to first.  Most schools have a SENCO teacher (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) and they can offer support and advice to you and your child.

Schools can refer your child to an educational psychologist if they feel it is appropriate.  The educational psychology service can assess your child in a thorough and comprehensive way and offer advice to teachers and parents about how to manage your child's particular  difficulties.  You can contact an educational psychology department yourself if your school refuses to do this on your behalf or you have a disagreement with the school. In some areas there are parent support services to help you deal with the complexities of the education system should there be a dispute with your child's school.

If your child is missing school without your consent an Educational Welfare Officer may become involved.  Education Welfare Officers often have social work training and are well equipped to give advice and help.

Some schools, particularly secondary schools and sixth form colleges, employ school counsellors.  They can offer your child a confidential environment in which to discuss worries and concerns.  These counsellors are well placed to seek additional help for your child within the education system.

All schools have school doctors (Community Paediatricians) and school nurses. They will address any medical concerns or mental health concerns you have and may offer general advice on managing children.


In the UK you can find out about services and local support groups by visiting your local library.  Most libraries have free access to the internet too. Some libraries have information notice boards where you can find information about local activities in your area.  


If you have access to a computer you can search the internet for information.  When doing a search on the internet, find groups local to your area by typing in the name of your area along with what you are searching for.

If you need to find a telephone number of a person or organisation use this site

When to contact your doctor or other professionals about family difficulties?

GP's will advise parents who are anxious about their child or family.  If you have a worry or concern, it is  better to act quickly and seek advice, rather than letting things get worse.

Your doctor will have access to a range of services.  Depending on your difficulties, they can refer you to a health visitor, a counsellor, to adult mental health services, child mental health services, social services and to other specialists and organisations that will be useful to you.  They may offer medication along with referral to other services. Sometimes further medical investigations may be required at hospital - if a child has a persistent toileting problem or a hearing loss for example.

For some family difficulties and mental health concerns you and your child may be referred to a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS.) Sometimes these have friendlier names such as "Child and Family Centre" or "Family Therapy Service."  Don't be put off by the term 'mental health.'  In these services 'mental health' means anything from serious mental health difficulties such as anorexia, depression and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to milder conditions such as general anxiety and separation difficulties.  CAMHS services usually work with children from 0-19 years old.

Child and adolescent mental health services have specialist workers such as psychiatrists, family psychotherapists, play and art therapists, counsellors, CBT therapists and psychologists.  They will meet with you and your child to discuss your difficulties and offer specialist assessment and help.

Social Care

Where there is family breakdown or risk of harm to children, social services will become involved.  The health service and social services, as well as voluntary organisations have a duty to work together for the benefit of children and families where there is a risk to children's safety or a likelihood of family breakdown.  Social services may offer advice to parents and act as a gateway to other service providers, but do not always get involved in family difficulties unless they are very serious. Social service departments have an official on duty at all times.  They are called "duty social workers."  If you ring your telephone operator you can ask to be put through to the duty social worker in your area.  The duty social worker will be able to advise and provide help if you need it in an emergency.

When there are a number of professionals involved in a family a TAF may be called. This stands for Team Around the Family and the professionals and family meet at regular intervals. This is to ensure everyone is working together and to offer the best possible service to the young people and family involved.


In an emergency situation where there is a risk of harm to children and/or adults, you should ring the police for help.

You will find many useful articles in this site with links to other related resources on the internet.

List of Useful Websites:

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