Aims and method: There have been a variety of instruments developed for evaluating family functioning, but no specific measure has emerged as appropriate for routine clinical use. The Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale (FACES) was viewed as a useful tool for a period, but has been less popular of late. This paper looks at its use in families with two very different types of problem to assess its discriminatory ability. Results: Mothers with depression whose children were not showing mental health difficulties reported a very different pattern of family functioning from those whose children were showing chronic school refusal. Clinical implications: The FACES is capable of discriminating between different patterns of family functioning. Its ease of administration, and the information it provides, should recommend it for wider use in clinical settings.