Clinical staff building skills to work with families.

Behavioural Family Therapy Training


In January and March of this year , 22 Trust clinical staff completed a training course in Behavioural Family Therapy.  The training is delivered by Adult Mental Health staff and supported by a small team of carers and service users who share their experiences, describing the impact of mental health difficulties on the whole family. There is no written assessment during the training and a variety of approaches to learning are used, including; group work, discussions, observing family sessions and giving feedback.

Natasha Batty- Charge Nurse at Lucy Wade Unit, Millbook described her experience.
‘I had some apprehensions about carrying out the BFT training after being informed that it relied heavily on role play, however, the team were wonderful in alleviating our anxieties and I actually found the role play incredibly beneficial in completing the training! The training was very well conducted and, although intense, equipped us with the skills necessary to be confident in carrying this work out. I currently work on an inpatient ward within the Trust but hope to be able to begin implementing the principles of family work with service users that I work with’.
The training sessions are held in Nottingham and Rampton Hospital. Over a quarter of the clinical staff in Adult Mental Health have now completed the course. Family work has been identified within the Trust Recovery Strategy as a strong evidence base for the effectiveness of family work both locally and internationally. After completing the training, staff members are encouraged to attend monthly group supervision sessions and annual Refresher Days which are run by the Family Interventions Team. These days give staff the chance to discuss concerns, maintain confidence and share good practise.

This course is open to clinical staff working in the Adult Mental Health directorate. If you would like to apply for a place on a future course please contact:

BFT Training Day Blog by Trevor Clower – Carer July 2015


Trevor is an Involvement Volunteer and carer. Here is a snapshot of a day in the life of Trevor and one of his many volunteering activities he participates in helping staff to recognise carers and families in the Trust as equal partners in care.

It was a typical Thursday morning, in the Learning and Development Department at Duncan McMillan house, Nottingham with the exception of what was happening in the Purple & Green training rooms organised by Andrea Emmens our Mental Health Family Interventions Coordinator at Bassetlaw Hospital

Yes, it was another BFT training day. We all know what BFT stands for, don’t we? If you don’t, then you better read on, and if you do know what it means, Andrea expects you to read on!  Oh alright then…it stands for ‘Behavioural Family Therapy Training’.

An adventure was about to unfold.  It started with Andrea asking me to come along and help out. Working with Andrea is always an adventure, because if you knew what you what you were letting yourself in for you would probably leave the country and run (it’s a joke honestly!)

There was lots of NHS staff on the course with quite a bit of role play.

It was great to watch and I even got a chance to play someone’s Grandad or was it someone’s Mother? I forget now, but it was great fun! Andrea always plans the BFT courses with humour and imagination; she has a flare for it.

In the afternoon we told our stories, I did ‘my thing’ about the five sequences of events carers can fall victim to when no support is offered. Ingrid, a carer from, the Rosewood Centre in Ollerton told her story and stunned the room into silence. After this, another carer, Bev gave her passionate story that filled the room with emotion making you hang on to her every word. Yes, there were tears and shock and many other emotions in the audience. Life can be raw at times for carers and their families.

It showed how role play is effective in bring training alive. Yes, it was enjoyable to do but more importantly it is a vital part of the course and as Ingrid’s and Bev’s words bought all that to life, they put it into context with the power of their stories. It was a very emotional and worthwhile day indeed.  Well done Andrea and the team. BFT is a great learning opportunity for staff to learn indeed.

Best Fun in Town (Trevor Clower)

June 15 BFT Trainees and Trainers

Being asked to go to a meeting of any kind by Andrea Emmens is always an adventure. This was, quite simply, the best BFT Refresher Day to date, and while you’re all trying to guess what BFT stands for, no it’s not Best Fun in Town, although that does describe the day well. No BFT stands for:

Behavioural Family Therapy, a very necessary service, which keeps families together, while dealing with Mental illness, and keeping people from ending up in hospital.

This was my first BFT refresher day and I was wondering quite what else I would be led into, on top of what was in the programme. This meeting had all the earmarks of being a good day, indeed, it turned out to be brilliant.

After I delivered my bit on the 5 Sequences of Events all Carers fall victim to, Sarah, who was nervous, gave an incredibly moving account of her life with her brother, in her intoxicating Rotherham accent. You could have heard a pin drop as she captivated the whole audience with her brother’s struggle.

Then we had lunch, during which, Andrea pulled me to one side, and whispered that I would be dad in the next part of the Refresher Day Event. I had no idea what she was talking about, but then again I am getting used to being surprised when Andrea gets the bit between her teeth. As it transpired, I was dad to Lauren and her sister Alyson, as we sat together, centre stage, while Andrea and Christine came on stage like the Family Workers from HELL!

We had a whale of a time as Christine and Andrea did as many things wrong as they could during our interview, which felt more like a grilling at the Spanish inquisition! It was impossible to keep a straight face, as some of their antics became more and more bizarre!

After which the audience was asked to state all the things that was done wrong, well where do we start was the first contribution from the audience, the whole play was a catalogue of what you must not do. However, I have to admit the discussion afterwards was both lively and very enthusiastic indeed: bringing the best out of the best in this very experienced audience who deliver BFT during their work.

The day was policed by Tim Constable who represented the management. Tim made a huge contribution to the event and it is clear that managers would benefit greatly by going on a BFT course just as much as carers and family members do.

The whole day went like clockwork and was highly successful since it did exactly what it set out to do, that is, refresh people’s minds and fire up their imagination and enthusiasm.

I recommend this training course to anyone who carers about people and learn how to deal with families head on, and make a positive difference in their turbulent lives.