In rural areas where specialist services are not readily accessible, there are practical advantages to providing short courses of therapy for children's mental health problems. Fifty-five parents from a rural area in South Australia completed questionnaires before and 3 months after receiving brief, family-oriented therapy from a child and adolescent mental health service. Clinically, these families were assessed as being suitable for brief therapy because the children had moderately severe emotional and behavioural problems and the families were not severely dysfunctional. The screening process sought to exclude more serious and complex presentations so those families were not included in the current study. Questionnaires measuring the severity of children's mental health problems (Child Behavior Checklist) and the degree of family dysfunction (Family Assessment Device general functioning subscale) suggested that, on average, the sample met these entry criteria. The follow-up evaluation after brief therapy found significant overall improvement in the Child Behavior Checklist scores, however some children continued to show substantial difficulties. Parents' satisfaction with therapy was related to these scores after treatment. The results suggest that brief therapy was appropriate for most of the families and that routine follow-up could help determine those who might benefit from further assistance.