Whole Family Approach: rapid review of literature

Reviews the evidence on Whole Family Approaches to family support, focussing on examples of best practice in the context of substance use and implications for the training and learning development of substance use practitioners and wider workforce.


1. This is the the Scottish Government's approach to supporting children and young people, including those affeced by substance use. GIRFEC takes a strengths-based approach by working in partnership with families, and seeks to offer preventative support to improve outcomes for children, young people and families.

2. This is based on an approach that understands families have resilience, strengths, skills and capacities that need to be utilised to ensure that the whole family (children and adults) can thrive.

3. Child's plan - Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) - gov.scot (www.gov.scot)

4. Circle demonstrates an array of good practice examples. Specifically, emphasis is placed on cross-agency working, whether that be through referral agencies or working with parents to access additional services. There are also clear protocols for confidentiality and information sharing, which are undertaken with sensitivity with regards to child protection.

5. Circle operates using an open referral system, with referrals coming from children and families statutory services, health visitors, schools, drugs and alcohol agencies, and other third sector organisations

6. Similar benefits and positive outcomes have been reported in the context of mental health family group interventions (see McDonnell and Dyck, 2004; Lemmens et al, 2009).

7. People who use substances commonly report feeling disconnected and isolated from their communities and peers (see Mitchell and Burgess, 2009; Gentile and Clapton, 2021; Murphy et al, 2010; Copello et al, 2005; Circle, 2020).

8. There was a total of 837 children, 36 adults and over 30 group facilitators


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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