According to the Family Domains Framework (FDF), family life consists of a movement of parents and children across four domains: exploratory, attachment, discipline/expectation and safety. Each has its own typical behaviours, ways of speaking and pacing, and each serves distinct and equally important functions for the growing child. On admission to an adolescent psychiatric unit, staff become temporary custodians of some of the domains’ processes, while also working in partnership with parents. Here we outline the Family Domains Framework and describe its application in a Family-Domains-informed systemic therapy, attending to the roles of unit staff, the family therapist, parent and young person. We outline how the FDF can be used to review everyday challenges involving staff, parents and young people to generate hypotheses and ideas for alternative staff strategies. We also describe how the framework can be used to clarify the roles of unit staff and parents.