Understanding the process of Family Group Conferencing in public mental health care: A multiple case study

Document Type

Journal Article


Oxford University Press


School of Nursing and Midwifery




de Jong, G., Schout, G., & Abma, T. (2017). Understanding the process of family group conferencing in public mental health care: A multiple case study. The British Journal of Social Work, 48(2), 353-370. Available here


From 2011 until 2013, forty-one family group conferences were organised for clients in a public mental health care (PMHC) setting in the north of the Netherlands. In total, 312 semi-structured interviews were done out of a possible number of 473 Family Group Conferencing (FGC) participants. A multiple case study brought four dynamics to the surface on the process of FGC in PMHC: (i) overcoming resistance, breaking through isolation, sharing shameful feelings and grievances; (ii) you’ll change for your mother, not for professionals; (iii) the complex role of FGC coordinators; and (iv) professionals who can resist the temptation to take over. To understand these dynamics, the role of the social network as ‘shock absorbers’ and the necessity of a collaboration between FGC coordinators and professionals are further explored. Eventually, the impact of FGC on the client’s quality of life is influenced by four factors, namely if: (i) clients are willing to invite and extend their social network; (ii) clients and their network are willing to share shameful feelings and grievances; (iii) there is mutual trust between clients and FGC coordinators and (iv) professionals reinforce the self-direction of the group and prevent clients from falling back into individual care trajectories.



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