Supporting Psychiatrists and Families in Providing Family Oriented Care

The Association of Family Psychiatrists is an association for psychiatrists, psychiatry residents, and allies. Our mission is to support psychiatrists and families in providing family oriented care. AFP is an allied organization of the American Psychiatric Association.


What is Family Psychiatry?

Family psychiatry supports family inclusive care for families of patients through the life cycle, from young child focused families through young adults, marriage or partnering, through the end of the life cycle. Family psychiatry includes family support, psychoeducation, family consultation and when appropriate, family therapy. It supports families as givers of history, as caregivers, and as persons with their own needs. Family psychiatrists train medical students, psychiatric residents, and practicing psychiatrists to include families in treatment, develop psychoeducation programs and resources to support families, and advance the field with program development, writing, and research.

Our Mission

  • To connect family psychiatrists with one another
  • To provide resources for therapists to share with families
  • To strengthen training in family oriented care in medical schools and residencies, and encourage residents to specialize in helping families
  • To raise awareness of family issues within the APA, AACAP, AADPRT and AAMC
  • To encourage dissemination of family research within psychiatry

Our Listserv

We are excited to introduce The AFP Listserv, an electronic discussion list for our members. It provides for the rapid exchange of information, assistance, and discussion of professional issues among AFP members. Participation in the listserv is a benefit of AFP membership. Professional questions – clinical, teaching, research, and consultation issues – and public policy concerns are all welcome. Requests for referral suggestions in other cities are always acceptable; in fact that is one of the main functions of our listserve. We encourage you to post information about workshops you are presenting or books/articles you have written. If you have recently read a great book, found a great DVD or a good teaching youtube video, please post that as well. To post to this group, send email to To unsubscribe from this group and stop receiving emails from it, send an email to  

A Short History of Family Psychiatry

Psychiatrists have been central to the  field of family therapy. Although social workers and marital counselors saw families from the early years of the 20th century, the field as a separate theoretical entity primarily began in the early 1950’s, when psychiatrists such as Lyman Wynne, Sal Minuchin, Carl Whitaker, Murray Bowen and Ivan Boszormenyi-Nagy attempted to understand the connection between mental illness and family dysfunction, and to use the family’s strength and resilience for healing. Their writings about family functioning and therapy models brought the attention of psychiatry to the field. Their systemic paradigm challenged both medical and analytically based psychiatry, and the pioneers were often seen as outliers at best or apostates, at worst. [expand title=”Read More”] Although the early theories of mental illness as primarily a response to family issues have proven to be too simplistic, it has also become clear that when a person has a mental illness the family’s ability to communicate clearly and support the ill person can mean the difference between a functioning and a non functioning patient. Many therapists in other disciplines became interested in family work at this time and the developing field became truly interdisciplinary. Many of the early physician family therapists developed models or training centers that trained hundreds of therapists in their models. Over the last 30 years, psychiatrists and other interested professionals have collaborated on the support and treatment of families with medical illness, addiction, and psychiatric illness, couples problems, and troubled children.   In the last 15 years, pressure from hospitals and insurance companies to place psychiatrists into the role of medication provider without involving them in therapy have made it harder to teach family therapy within the confines of psychiatric training. However, it has made knowledge of brief family psychoeducation even more crucial, as families have become the main caregivers of our patients. Our website, therefore, represents family inclusion in all its forms–education, resources, family consultation, and family therapy. [/expand]

Executive Board

  • Ellen Berman MD, President
  • Alison Heru MD, Secretary-Treasurer
  • Greg Miller MD, Liaison to the APA Assembly
  • Michael Ascher MD, Officer