Tag Archives: Family

How to survive in a relational economy: Family matters

A parent once told me that the best way to meet people locally is through children and dogs. Attending the local play group, picking the kids up from school and arranging play dates are all interactions that connect parents with the local community in a way that many of us who are child-less (and dog-less) can’t.

Why then, when we ran a Backr family day at the Horniman Museum in Lewisham, did so many of the parents we met say they felt isolated in finding work?   Continue reading How to survive in a relational economy: Family matters

The Link between Relationships and Work, and why it matters

Two fascinating but different presentations touched on the links between relationships and work and made powerful cases for relational welfare this week. Continue reading The Link between Relationships and Work, and why it matters

Moving from the individual to the relational: child protection re-imagined

Jo has been qualified as a social worker for two years. She works from a new office in the centre of town, based above the ‘one stop shop’ access point for local authority services.  The council’s policy of hot desking means there is little clutter on desks.  It is perfect white space, corporately pristine. There are few personalised areas and Jo may be sitting with different people each day. Most days she visits families in their homes driving to the estate where  many of those on her caseload live.  Jo visits the estate in her car.  She has never walked around it, shopped there or stopped for a coffee, sandwich or a drink. Indeed, there are few places to buy food and drink.   Continue reading Moving from the individual to the relational: child protection re-imagined

Wisdom of the 60s

Winicott one of the father’s of English psychoanalysis first taught us that it is the relationship between the practitioner and the family, which is key to change.

It has been our experience at Participle that this relationship is pivotal, hard to get right and hard to sustain.

I’ve been thinking about this because one thing that puzzled me about the Cowans last week is that they did not talk about the quality of the relationship between the worker and the families.

When we start our family work http://www.alifewewant.com we find breakdown between the families and workers on the front line – there is exhaustion and hopelessness on both sides.  “This family will never change” we are told by exasperated police officers, housing workers and social workers who have tried everything.  “They just criticise and undermine me”, respond the families who often have a mobile specifically to manage and avoid transactions with key workers.

No change can happen without a relationship and no relationship can be built without a conversation – listening and understanding on both sides.  Deep work with families requires empathy and imagination.  Life teams are recruited from those already working on the front line and these are the qualities we look for – the place the work must start.

Life teams see families respond and open to change – often families that they have known for a long time – it is a rewarding experience and as the open relationship grows the real work starts.

But the work is also extremely challenging.  Families can go backwards as well as forwards on the journey to build their capabilities.  The deep engagement that facilitates change takes a personal toll on the team even when expert supervision is in place – in our case provided by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust.

The crisis a team sometimes feels can be seen as a reflection of the family’s own experience of living in a world without safety or security.  Under such conditions it is no wonder that the family struggle to hold onto help, support and rational thinking.  It is also why our teams experience days when they feel they live a tentative existence on the verge of collapse.

This phenomena whereby a team’s experience can bear an uncanny similarity with that of the family is not talked about very much but its been known for decades.    Understanding the dynamics of this relationship better and being more honest about the challenges might help move us towards the developmental services we need.