Webinar: Working with families who do not see the problem

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Judit Németh-Almasi
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Webinar: Working with families who do not see the problem

Discussion for webinar participants - further questions, comments, etc.

Evgenia Generalova
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Questions to the presenter

We had a few questions and comments to the presenter from the webinar participants. Stephanie, could you please address them below?  Thank you so much! 

1. When the family is so blinded to reject the fact that there is a problem, how long should I wait for them to be aware of? Or, when I need to be direct and tell them there is no time to waste? (Its about a family with a child with autism, and they don't see that)
2. I find your advice on asking uncooperative parents "what can YOU do so I wouldn't need to come here again?" very useful, it actually shifts responsibility to them, I would normally say that I have to be there and that they should spend the time with me doing something useful for them.. I'm working with the families of children in conflict with the law, and they are all pretty much unmotivated and uncooperative :) (But aren't all families who end up using social services..?)
3. I think as workers we may assume we speak clearly and understandably, but it may not be the case for some families with a different background - learning difficulty (as you said) - etc.
4. May I ask how easy it is to find other mediators? 

Stephanie Delaney
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Replies to webinar questions

Thanks to everyone for thier questions.  I have cut and pasted the qustions below, with my responses, for ease of reading:

1. When the family is so blinded to reject the fact that there is a problem, how long should I wait for them to be aware of? Or, when I need to be direct and tell them there is no time to waste? (Its about a family with a child with autism, and they don't see that)

A good question!  For me I think the question is about the impact (ie harm) on the child, and that would be what would be key in my mind to thinking about when to perhaps be more directive.  I don't think there is anything wrong in being very clear about the problem, as you see it, from the outset.  The issue is more about when do you need to see action and cooperation from their side.  I would also mention here that a lot also depends on the legal / policy framework.  While in some countries it is argued that the legal provisions are 'too strong' and so social workers can step in and intervene perhaps too early, in other countries the framework is so weak that unless there was severe abuse virtually nothing can be done.  Clearly if you are in the latter situation you are going to have to be much more reliant on being able to persuade families as you have no other actions that can be called on.

2. I find your advice on asking uncooperative parents "what can YOU do so I wouldn't need to come here again?" very useful, it actually shifts responsibility to them, I would normally say that I have to be there and that they should spend the time with me doing something useful for them.. I'm working with the families of children in conflict with the law, and they are all pretty much unmotivated and uncooperative :) (But aren't all families who end up using social services..?)

I must say this technique does work - but also be careful as it can also set up a challenge / arguement situation - so sometimes asking the same question in a more neutral way 'What needs to happen so I do not have to come here again?' can also be useful as it sets up a dynamic where both the family and the worker are united in tryng to end involvment. I also think asking these kinds of solution focussed questions are helpful with families where they do not agree there is a problem, because it stops the debate about whether your assessment / judgement is right or wrong and shifts it onto thinking about how to address the issue.

3. I think as workers we may assume we speak clearly and understandably, but it may not be the case for some families with a different background - learning difficulty (as you said)

I agree entirely!  Apologies to those who have heard this story before but I was once asked to do a assessment of a family - they had already had several assessments done by social workers, psychologists, doctors etc.  After I introduced myself I asked them what they understood by an assessment and neither parent could say!  This is another reason why I advocate for written agreements (or could make an audio etc) as it makes it clear what is the purpose and expectations.

4. May I ask how easy it is to find other mediators?

This is entirely dependant upon the individual family.  In some cases it is impossible as literally there is nobody apart from the parents and no professions who are part of the network that can help - such as a teacher - but in other cases there might be several people.  If you have something like a community or family centre that can also help as giving families the chance to meet others who have found the service useful (assuming you can get them there in the first place!) can also be a way of encouraging families to engage.  Of course there are issues with confidentiality that need to be considered, but are not necessarily a barrier.

 

Thanks again for your questions, and hope this helps.  If anyone else has other thoughts, ideas or questions I would be really happy to respond futher.

Arina Cretu
First of all, thank you,

First of all, thank you, Stephanie, for the very interesting webinar. This information is very useful in the context of our work in Moldova, because uncooperative families are not rare around here and the professionals (social assistants, teachers, policemen etc.) that Tdh Moldova trains are looking for methods and approaches to such cases. A Module on working with uncooperative families is also included in our ToT materials in the field of case management - we shared this modules along with other ones here http://childhub.org/self-study-materials/modules-case-management-assisting-children-victims-violence-neglect?language=en (available in Romanian and English). I am sure that my colleagues will update the modules with new ideas from your presentation.

Judit Németh-Almasi
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Dear Arina, excellent point,

Dear Arina, excellent point, I did remember your office has been working on this topic but could not pinpoint in which material. I have added this to the page of the webinar for all former paticipants and readers to refer to it. THANK YOU!

Stephanie Delaney
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Useful Resources

Hi Arina

Thanks for your positive coment, and also for sharing the materials.  I will certainly have a good look at them, and encourage others to do likewise. 

I think this is one of the most positive benefits of ChildHub - being able to exchange ideas with others. 

Thanks a lot, and thanks to Judit for uploading.

Good luck in Moldova:)

 

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