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Family therapy for pain psychology

What is family therapy?

Living with a child with chronic pain can bring extra pressures to family life and sometimes unexpected challenges to relationships. You may need help to discover how best to support your child to manage their pain in ways which for some, may at first seem at odds with what comes naturally.

Family therapy can offer a space to think about how pain affects everyone in the family, how family members respond and discover new ways of talking and being with each other.

It aims to help families better understand each other, appreciate each other’s needs and build on strengths and resources.


“Every family is a bit like the human body. Sometimes it feels great, and things work well. Sometimes even small things can feel like a big challenge. When we hurt one part of our body, every part can be affected in some way. But all the body parts can work together to help if a bone gets broken, or there’s an infection. So family therapy helps family members to work together when something is hurting, or just feeling out of sorts” – Associate of Family Therapy

Who comes to the sessions?

The team is made up of the people in your child’s life who are important such as parents, carers, siblings, extended family or close friends. Sometimes another professional might be involved.

You will meet with a qualified family therapist who will help you work towards your goals.

How many sessions will we have?

You will be offered up to 6 sessions. These are usually every 2 weeks.

It can sometimes take only a few sessions to help families find their way. If the difficulties feel more complicated, then your therapist will discuss with you if a longer period of therapy is needed.

Sessions may be offered face to face in Sheffield or remotely through video calls through a secure online platform.

What happens in the sessions?

In the first appointment, your therapist will give you the chance to ask any questions and think about what you would like to achieve from the therapy.

The sessions usually involve a combination of talking and listening and sometimes also creative activities and exercises, depending upon the age, ability and preference of your child.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: PAI13

Resource Type: Article

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