Understanding the impact of an Assertive Outreach Team on couples caring for adult children with psychosis

Julia Wane, Michael Larkin*, Megan Earl-Gray, Hayley Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Carers play an essential role in the lives of people suffering from mental health problems. Caring is very often a relational activity carried out by family members. Assertive Outreach (AO) services ought to be particularly well placed to support carers, but their impact upon families is not well understood. We set out to understand the intervention of AO services from a family perspective, and in particular to explore its meaning from the perspectives of pairs of carers. Three pairs of carer-parents participated in six individual open-ended interviews. Transcripts were analysed from an interpretative phenomenological perspective. All three families described a series of distressing crisis experiences prior to their relationship with AO. Carers had felt painfully excluded from their parental roles - both by their children and by services. Two further themes illuminated their subsequent relationship with AO: first, carers felt reassured; valued and included; and benefited from improvements in family relationships. Second, there were still concerns about the continuing relationship with professionals, and about the future of their family member - especially in relation to how services might secure these things. It was striking that there were different needs and concerns not only between the three couples but within each pair. Changing roles and relationships within the family were related to what families wanted from services. We note that engagement with systemic ways of working may prove fruitful for the development of AO services.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-309
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Family Therapy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009


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