The importance of the family

Family Therapy

At The Wave, our trauma-focused mental health and eating disorder programs – for teenagers and young adults – include a variety of family services to provide support and help rebuild family relationships.

The involvement of the family is pivotal to effective treatment and long-term recovery. All research indicates that teenagers and young adults in mental health programs benefit greatly from family therapy and enjoy significantly better outcomes.

Family may include parents, step-parents, carers, grandparents, siblings and those who have become ‘family’ by choice. All members of the family are welcome at The Wave and are an essential part of our extended treatment team.

We believe in putting family first.

We are all working towards the same goals

The Role of the Family

Caring for a family member with mental health or behavioural health concerns can be difficult at times and often leads to families feeling exhausted and disconnected. A wide variety of feelings are typically experienced, from grief, fear and disappointment to shame and failure.

Every family wants to do the very best they can for their loved one, and while they may know they need professional help, often find it difficult to take the all-important step to send their child to treatment. If they do take this step, deciding on a treatment program can become a worrying and stressful experience in itself.

Reaching out to us is the single most important thing a family can do and is the first step on the healing journey. We are one of the leading centres worldwide, dedicated to supporting and guiding young people and their families on their road to recovery.

Consistent parenting, supporting treatment and encouraging medication compliance are some of the ways that families can help. At The Wave, we see families as our partners in the treatment process. We like to ensure that we are all working towards the same goals. Family support and the rebuilding of family relationships is an essential part of the healing process.

We believe in putting the family first in treatment

Family Services at The Wave

At The Wave, our trauma-focused mental health and eating disorder programs – for teenagers and young adults – include a variety of family services to provide support and help rebuild family relationships.

The involvement of the family is pivotal to effective treatment and long-term recovery. All research indicates that teenagers and young adults in mental health programs benefit greatly from family therapy and enjoy significantly better outcomes.

Family may include parents, step-parents, carers, grandparents, siblings and those who have become ‘family’ by choice. All members of the family are welcome at The Wave and are an essential part of our extended treatment team.

We believe in putting family first.


Family Therapy and Sibling Therapy

The effects of living with someone with mental health issues, addiction, eating disorders and/or psychiatric diagnosis can take its toll on the relationships within a family. In addition, The Effects of Divorce on Children can also be hugely negative.  Every family arrives with a unique narrative, concerns, anxiety and sometimes fears for the future. They can often feel overwhelmed and powerless.

Family therapy helps young people and their families work through these issues, plan together and communicate. Our family therapy, sibling therapy and family workshops play an integral role in the programs at The Wave and provide opportunities for all family members to approach, challenge, understand and grow.

We provide a safe and supported space for the entire family to work through historical events, current concerns and effectively plan for the future. All family sessions are facilitated by a trained family therapist, joined by a co-facilitator and/or psychiatrist where appropriate.


Family Therapy Intensives

Our families stay close to us. It is one of the most wonderful aspects of our journey together. We watch families reunite, grow, change and develop together.

Our family therapy intensives are designed as standalone treatment options for families who would like to return to therapy after discharge and re-engage in therapy. We are able to be with them to work through the tough times and celebrate the great times.

At The Wave, family therapy intensives typically include psychiatry, medical & therapeutic teams, EMDR, somatic therapy, family TRE® and trauma therapy.

We are all working towards the same goals

Parent Advocates

Parent advocates provide a valuable support network for our new families. They have been where you are right now and understand how you feel. They understand the complexity of finding suitable treatment and have first-hand knowledge of building a trusting relationship with our treatment team.

Our parent advocates have pledged to help other families experiencing mental health, addiction and eating disorders, each offering their time and guidance freely. As supporters of The Wave, and in providing guidance for others, they are part of our extended family.


High Conflict Divorce

It is well documented that the transition of divorce can trigger childhood challenges such as emotional and behavioural difficulties, depression, and trauma. Children involved in high-conflict divorce also experience a higher level of alcohol and drug use, school difficulties and erratic and disruptive behaviour.

Left untreated, these problems can continue into adulthood, resulting in lower academic achievement, poor psychological wellbeing, and difficulty maintaining their own intimate relationships.

An increasing number of children are involved in counseling due to high-conflict divorce and custody disputes. Families are often in need of a variety of professional services, including evaluation, counseling, legal representation, and parenting coordination. In dealing with high-conflict divorce cases the neutral ground of child therapy can serve as a much-needed sanctuary.

At The Wave, we are building a solution within high profile law firms to assist with trauma for children in international and HNW divorce cases. We are working with London’s favourite couples’ therapist, Caroline Curtis Dolby (at Belgravia Therapy) and London’s most prestigious Family Law teams.

We are all working towards the same goals

Family Short Stays

The Wave Clinic alumni all benefit from having a safe space here with us, if and when they need it. All our young people and their families know that we are always here to support them in moments of uncertainty or crisis.

Many of our young people and their families choose to return to us for short stays to ‘top up’ therapy or to regulate following a hectic term or semester. ‘Wobbles’ need not become a crisis. If a young person or family feels that the progress made is at risk, we are here to support them and assist with a short-stay return to treatment where necessary.

We are all working towards the same goals

A Place to Call Home

Our care remains long after our young people and their families complete residential treatment.

Recovery is not linear. Lapses or a return to old behaviours can and do happen in eating disorders, addictions and mental health recovery.

We provide unlimited support for all our families, post discharge. Our continuing care extends to return short-stay visits, video call sessions and links to primary therapists for as long as they are needed.

‘Our doors are always open’. These are the final words we share with our families when the time comes for them to leave us.


Mental health concerns, eating disorders and addiction can happen to anyone at any time. Whilst there is no single reason that this is happening to your child or teenager, research has consistently highlighted numerous risk factors.

These can include genetic links, such as neurodevelopmental disorders, developmental challenges or a mental health diagnosis within the extended family, prematurity at birth and other biological risk factors.

Trauma can also play a large role in the development of mental health problems in childhood and into early adulthood. Trauma is the descriptive term for the experience that we feel on the inside when situations, places and people are overwhelming, damaging, hurtful, life threatening or problematic for us as individuals. These can include: being bullied, divorce, family separation, medical procedures, disability, addiction in the family and mental health diagnoses. Trauma is a very personal experience, created by events that lead to complex and unresolved feelings. Trauma can be a singular event or a series of events that continue over time.

Families, peer groups and social experiences (both on and offline) have an effect on the development of young people. Many experiences are of course positive. However, those that are negative can reinforce maladaptive coping mechanisms or reinforce a negative system.

Families often feel responsible for ‘fixing’ the problems alone, but it is essential to have a support network for the entire family.

The most important decision that you can make as a family is to reach out for help.

Once in treatment, the family unit can provide invaluable support and encouragement right from the start. Positivity and actively encouraging engagement in the treatment process really helps young people to stay on track with their treatment goals. Lots of young people will attempt to ‘divide and rule’, so we ask that our families stay in close contact with the therapy team to keep treatment moving forwards.

As one member of the family begins to change and take on a new role, there will be a shift in the whole family unit. This is where families can engage in family therapy to resolve past issues and creatively plan for a brighter future together.

As treatment progresses we will ask for further input. We will work to understand and rebuild the family dynamics, request that family members complete some homework and recommend further family therapy where appropriate.

We work closely with each family to address old patterns of behaviour, whilst providing coping skills and practical advice for post-treatment family life. We explore the expectations of the whole family as we move from admission, stabilisation and into forward planning. We consider every family to be a valuable part of our Wave team.

Upon admission you will receive a patient questionnaire along with some essential homework for the family. It is helpful for the treatment team to have a good understanding of the problems that the family have faced and how the mental health, behavioural concerns, addiction or eating disorder have affected the family as a whole.

We will invite the family to take part in family therapy sessions, when clinically appropriate, either in person or by video conferencing. We will help to adjust family dynamics; which may have become strained during the acute phase prior to admission. We value our families input throughout the process.

Working together we can access family strengths and look at the areas that need additional support or guidance. We want to know what is important to each young person and their family’s shared goals for treatment.

Try not to be nervous. We are on your ‘team’. We will spend some time gathering information on the areas that your family would like to focus on during therapy sessions. We will also have some ideas of our own following extensive work during our sessions whilst in treatment.

This will be balanced with plenty of time to ask and answer questions and provide information, insight and education.

You will all be together for at least part of the family sessions, with other opportunities to split into subgroups or even meet the family therapist individually. We will help you to understand how the family interacts, the communication patterns and the roles assumed in the family dynamic.

We will ask you all to take an honest look at life and communication in the family. We are going to ask you to be brave and confront some of your own fears and be gently direct when working with other members of the family.

Most importantly, we are there to support you every step of the way.

Family systems are often complex. Many feelings can arise in the sibling relationship when one or more young people engage in residential treatment or outpatient sessions.

Sibling relationships may be competitive and include comparisons, even jealousy. Whilst some rivalry and disagreements between brothers and sisters is very normal, there are some sibling relationships that require support and therapeutic intervention.

Twin and multiple birth relationships can bring a further dynamic to the treatment planning, for one or more of the young people involved. Special care needs to be taken of those in treatment and those experiencing the changes at home.

The Wave team will assess (if appropriate) sibling relationships and recommend appropriate and complimentary treatment either with our team or our network of family therapist in the UK, Middle East, Australia or Europe. If siblings need to engage in treatment simultaneously, we will work with the family and worldwide treatment facilities to coordinate family therapy sessions.

Open communication is essential to the work we do.

We have WhatsApp groups for family members and the clinical/medical team, where updates are regularly posted and families are free to ask questions or just send a hug or gentle goodnight wish. We also keep families updated with any general or more pressing developments via these chat groups.

Families receive weekly reports, which highlight our treatment planning and objectives across our six treatment elements. The reports are sent by the primary clinician, with input from our whole clinical team.

Weekly clinical/medical meetings are held on Wednesdays and all changes to treatment planning are discussed and forwarded to the family.

We will always respond to any communication as soon as we can, but ask families to appreciate that the time difference may mean a slight delay.

We do accept parcels and letters to our administrative office. For the safety of our young guests, our teams, and your family, we ask that flowers and food items are not sent. We ask that families do not send parcels to the residential centre directly. Our reception is open during normal office hours at: Level 23, NU Tower, 2, Jalan Tun Sambanthan, Kuala Lumpur Sentral, 50470, Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Malaysia

We believe in our young people’s right to confidentiality. There are a few occasions when we may need to discuss this with our young people further or when they may wish to change or update who we share information with.

There are some things that our young people might wish to remain in the private space between them and their therapist. There may be others that, in the interest of healing, are better to be shared. This is a process that will be undertaken with their therapist, who will support them in making informed decisions.

Prior to any family sessions we will carefully discuss with all family members the hopes and outcomes for the therapy sessions. We advocate for confidentiality, safe spaces and the involvement of the family where therapeutically beneficial. We will help to resolve family conflict, listening to differing viewpoints and give space to express all emotions in a sensitive way.

The Wave family program has evolved as a result of many years of working with families from all over the world. Our clinical team has experience of producing programs and interventions that are both culturally appropriate and sensitive to the needs of each family.

Each family has hopes, desires and expectations for treatment and beyond. We hope that our families will gain valuable insight and education, together with an opportunity to benefit from the experience of our clinical team in the therapy environment.

We will look at problem-solving techniques, expand social and professional support systems and plan life and recovery after treatment ends. Our families tell us that they gained fellowship, friendship and knowledge. We consider many of them as lifelong members of our extended family; regularly welcoming them back for visits and special occasions.

‘Effective’ means something very different to every family that we meet. The goals for treatment are unique and every family has a slightly differing view on what success would mean for them. Studies showing numbers and percentages mean very little, when the person that you care about seems resistant to treatment or change.

Upon admission, we conduct a series of standardised psychological assessments and mental health evaluations. We use this as a baseline to measure symptom severity, trauma, hope for the future, self-efficacy, communication and ability to form and maintain relationships with others. We also look at areas such as depression and anxiety or insomnia. By creating a baseline, we are able to monitor self-reported change and progress and use daily clinical observations to support the pathway to lasting change and the effectiveness of clinical/medical interventions.

Professional associations and memberships

We are here to help

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Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Dubai, United Arab Emirates