This site is intended for health professionals only

NiP Awards news - helping families with alcohol problems

A multidisciplinary team based in Canterbury in Kent has made huge improvements in the lives of families affected by alcohol-related problems, so much so that they have been shortlisted for the CCBT-Nursing in Practice Mental Health (including dual diagnosis) Award at this year's Nursing in Practice Annual Awards.

The Couple and Family Therapy Team, part of the Kent and Medway Alcohol Service, has been in operation since 2001, and aims to engage with and assist complex as well as challenging couples and familes with enduring alcohol-related problems. The team uses systemic psychotherapy, which has been recognised as an effective clinical modality when treating addictive behaviours.

Adult family/couple therapy services as part of alcohol treatment services in the NHS are difficult to establish and maintain, and there are very few of these services in the UK. The family therapy service operates weekly in Canterbury and can see clients within a few weeks of the referral being made.

After an initial meeting with the couple involved, often children, relatvies, friends, employers, colleagues, carers and other professionals are involved in subsequent meetings.

The team is made up of nursing, psychotherapy, counselling and school liaison professionals. The couples and families they see have generally not responded well to other professional interventions and can be very resistant to change despite continuing to experience escalating degrees of physical, psychological, social, domestic and criminal problems and harm.

Couples and families that the team work with have experienced one or more people drinking problematically with related problems such as mental illness, child protection issues, physical and sexual abuse, violence, rape and murder. Many of these couples and families have gone on to make significant and sustained change in drinking and underlying issues.

Brendan Flynn, specialist nurse therapist and member of the team, believes that the team provides a highly professional and dedicated clinical service to a marginalised and difficult-to-engage client group. "The team's work over the years has achieved a consistent level of stability and/or sobriety in the clients' drinking behaviour as well as significant and meaningful changes in relationships and family dynamics," he explained.

The Nursing in Practice Awards 2008rewards best practice in a variety of clinical areas, and are designedto recognise excellence and innovation in the primary care setting.

The Mental Health (including dual diagnosis) Award is sponsored by CCBT Ltd.

CCBT is the only proivder to the NHS of NICE-approved online treatments for panic, anxiety and phobia (FearFighter™). CCBT also provides treatments for depression (COPE) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCFighter).

Nursing in Practice Awards 2008