Multi-Family Therapy for young people with Anorexia Nervosa: Clinicians and carers’ perspectives on systemic changes

Hannah Wiseman, Sarah Ensoll, Lauren Russouw, Catherine Butler

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Abstract

Offering timely and effective intervention to young people with Anorexia Nervosa (AN) is a current priority within our national healthcare services (NHS). Treatment guidelines recommend that services should consider including multi-family therapy (MFT) in treatment pathways for young people with AN. MFT is theorised, like all family-based treatment approaches, to create change in the way families emotionally and behaviourally respond to and manage the AN. However, there is limited empirical understanding of how this intervention may create this change. This study conducted focus groups with carers who attended a pilot MFT group and clinicians who facilitated this group, to gather their perspectives of how MFT creates changes within family systems, and how this adds to existing treatment pathways for AN. Carers and therapists reported that specific aspects of the MFT programme, as well as therapeutic processes within MFT, create change in relationships between families and services, create a shift in the way carers understand the AN and in how they respond to it, and allow shared meanings of AN to be developed. The unique aspect of attending an intervention with other families with similar experiences enhances parental confidence, shifts feelings of guilt and blame, promotes hope, and challenges the way families understand and manage AN.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-83
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Systemic Therapies
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2019

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Keywords

  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Therapy
  • Multi-group Therapy
  • Systemic Therapy
  • CAMHS

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