National trail blazing work in CAMHS at Oxleas NHS


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) at Oxleas NHS, developed a Dialectical Behavioural Therapy team (DBT) in 2018.

The DBT team support adolescents with emotional dysregulation difficulties, a condition that describes an emotional response that is poorly regulated and does not fall within the traditionally accepted range of emotional reaction. These adolescents are at high risk of completed suicide and are supported by this intensive, yearlong treatment programme.

There are a large number of young people in CAMHS who struggle with emotion dysregulation. Research has shown that family members of those with emotion regulation difficulties are often providing significant amounts of care, which can have implications for their own wellbeing as well as the support that they can provide. 

Emma Holland, Oxleas CAMHS Crisis Pathway Operational Manager, said: "We identified areas of unmet need in CAMHS at Oxleas - firstly, supporting parents whose young people struggle with emotion dysregulation and secondly embedding DBT skills more broadly within Oxleas. 

Family Connections programme launch

Family Connections (FC), is a 12-week group programme for parents/carers based on principles of DBT and peer-support, which has been run and evaluated predominantly in adult services but not in an NHS CAMHS service before.

In May 2021, clinicians from Oxleas completed the FC training and introduced a group all three of our Boroughs (Bexley, Bromley, and Greenwich).  

The FC model focuses on parents or carers with lived experience of supporting relatives with emotional dysregulation leading the group. The next round of the FC groups will take place in September 2022.

This work is being completed alongside colleagues in South London and Maudsley (SLaM) NHS who are also one of the first to mobilise this intervention in NHS CAMHS services.

Together Oxleas and SLaM are collecting data, to demonstrate the impact and consideration of a roll-out across CAMHS services in the UK.

Feedback from parents and CAMHS has been overwhelmingly positive.  

Emma added: "We're really proud of the amazing work colleagues across CAMHS are doing and the support so many parents and carers in need are now receiving. Special thanks go to Dr Alexandra Wretham, Highly Specialist Clinical Psychologist at Oxleas, who was instrumental in mobilising this team and achieving such positive outcomes for service users."

Pictured presenting the Family Connections programme at the 50th Annual Conference of the British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies are CAMHS psychologists Alex Wretham and Olivia Harris.

Published on 2nd August 2022