Family therapists as front line mental health providers in war-affected regions: using reflecting teams, scaling questions, and family members in a hospital in Central Africa


  • Laurie L. Charlés

    1. Assistant Professor and Director, International, Cultural, and Community Psychology Program, Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology, 113 Kasr El Aini Street, PO Box 2511, Cairo, 11511, Egypt. E-mail:
    Search for more papers by this author


This paper will illustrate the utilization of systemic family therapy services inside a hospital in a war-affected region of the Central African Republic. Through an international non-governmental organization (NGO), the author, a family therapist, provided counselling supervision and services to hospital staff and patients in an area of open conflict in the northern region of the country. In circumstances of chronic insecurity fuelled by both government and rebel forces, families displaced in this region are vulnerable to numerous health conditions and social problems. Family therapy techniques and ideas were used to work with individuals, couples and families presenting with health and social problems resulting from HIV-TB, infections, chronic malnutrition, acute poisoning and beliefs about sorcery. Case examples illustrate the systems consultation model used with the mental health team in order to expand and promote the sustainability of patient mental healthcare in this underserved region.