Multi-Family Groups in Schools

  • Overview

    Developed by Brenda McHugh and Neil Dawson over a period of more than 30 years, the multi-family groups in schools model offers accessible, non-stigmatising, psychological support to children who are disruptive, hyperactive, impulsive, anxious, depressed, have erratic school attendance or experience social difficulties. The aim is to improve emotional, mental health-related and academic outcomes for children and young people with these complex problems by sharing experiences with other families.

    The model is provided in three main ways: through delivery, training and consultation.

  • Delivery

    Multi-family groups in schools are designed to give children who are frequently at risk of exclusion access to psychological and therapeutic help whilst working with their families. By introducing the multi-family groups model within schools, support is provided to both the young person and their family within the non-stigmatising environment of the school.

    Delivery of the model aims to:

    • Address the behaviour that puts the child at risk of exclusion
    • Develop the child's social and emotional skills
    • Enable parents to improve their relationships with their child and school
    • Exchange skills and knowledge between mental health and education professionals
    • Develop mini-communities capable of sustaining improvement
    • Raise children's academic achievements and attendance rates
    • Reduce anti-social behaviour
    • Improve parenting competencies
    • Develop trust with professional service providers
    • Improve family-school relationships

    For further information on our current delivery please click here


  • Training & Consultation

    Multi-Family Therapy Group trainings are delivered by experienced practitioners with significant experience of successfully embedding the model in schools in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany and the UK.

    The AFC offers a training course in Multi-Family Therapy (please follow the link below).

    For a full list of the training courses offered at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families please click here.

    We also offer bespoke consultations and supervisions targeted at heads, senior managers of schools and senior psychological, social and mental health support professionals and commissioners.

  • Benefits and Evidence

    A research study has assessed the outcomes and effectiveness of the multi-family programme. The results are statistically significant and evidence behavioural change, sustained over a 12 month period. (Families Changing Families: The Protective Function of Multi-Family Therapy for Children in Education. Dr Emma Morris, September 2012 [in Press])

    Benefits include:

    • Improved academic achievement and attendance
    • Reduction in anti-social behaviour
    • Improved parenting competencies e.g. clear boundaries and communications
    • Development of trust with professional service providers
    • Improved family/school relationships
    • Improved accessibility to mental health services


  • How to find out more

    Enquiries about our Multi-Family Groups in Schools delivery, trainings or consultations can be made by contacting Natalie Merrett, Schools Coordinator:

    Telephone: +44 (0)20 7443 2230