Solution Focused Working with Children, Young People and Families
Working with Parents to Reduce Parental Conflict
Whether the remit is to create a team to work on Reducing Parental Conflict – helping to reduce the impact and damage that parental conflict causes to children or whether the remit is to reduce the need for Local Authority Care under Section 20 – the approach is instrumental in helping families make sustainable change and recovery.
Using the Solution Focused Approach (deShazer) when working with families offers an opportunity for all involved to spend some time looking at: What doesn’t need to change? What works well for them? What doesn’t work? Their best coping strategies? and, as a family, to map out what will tell them that things are better in real and practical ways.
“Research on the public health significance of the impact of parental conflict on children is underscored by estimates indicating that children from homes characterized by interpartner discord are five to seven times more likely to experience significant psychological problems relative to children in the general population” (Cummings & Davies, 2010; McDonald & Jouriles, 1991).Melissa L. Sturge-Apple, Michael A. Skibo, and Patrick T. Davies1 Full article available in Partner Abuse, Volume 3, Issue 3, 2012.
This training has given me more strategies to use to become more effective in helping families bring about change. I will be able to work in a more collaborative way, using a much more client-led approach.
Tracy Harris, Health Visitor, Rhondda, Wales
Our experience when working with children of parents in conflict encourage us to believe that children can be helped to overcome the difficulties the parental conflict initially caused, the trauma that may have ensued, the learned behaviour that may have arisen.
Adults who have experienced trauma and abuse in childhood can, and do, make progress for themselves once they have agency to do so or, as in the case of UK Teacher and Speaker, Jaz Ampaw-Farr, who as a child was rescued from appalling abuse when an adult, a teacher, declared his commitment to “keeping her safe” and her journey to safety began.
It does take commitment from a group of adults, a team, a local authority, to take charge when a child is suffering – whether its from Parental Absue, Parental Conflict or Parental Ineptitude.
The approach we use when working with these issues, with children or with parents alone, or when training staff who work with these issues, is a strengths-based one. No matter how young the child or how embedded the Parental Conflict is – recovery and change has a hope of beginning when we focus on the very little that works as a starting point.
The language of Solution Focused working is not to dismiss or minimize a problem that a family are experiencing, it is not a “let’s look on the bright side….” model – it would not have achieved the very real results that it has if this is how it had been received by the hundreds of thousands of families who have experienced the approach to date. The success of the approach lies in the subtle “not knowing” stance of the practitioner, who operates as a “conduit” not “prescriptive expert” between the family and the journey towards better recovery and rehabilitation.
Providing 1 – 3 day in-house courses across the UK and beyond – the Consultancy train diverse groups within Children & Families services including Family Intervention Practitioners, Troubled Families Teams, Health Visitors, Children Centre Staff and Family Support Workers.
As part of the National Troubled Families Programme known locally as Priority Families, Derby City commissioned Eileen Murphy Consultants to deliver solution focused training to Priority Families lead workers including Youth Offending Services Case Managers, Child Practitioners, Family Visitors, Intensive Family Support Workers, FIP workers and Social Workers. Following the excellent feedback from attendees, and evidence of how this has been used in practice, further training will be made available to other Priority Families lead workers in Education, Health, Probation etc.
Liz Perfect – Priority Families Coordinator, Commissioning Division, Children & Families, Derby City Council
I would recommend this training to all in the Children & Young People’s Workforce
Rebecca Reeves – Intensive Family Support Worker, Derby City Council
I have had lots of “training” in my 30 years of working for Local Government organisations, without doubt this has been the most interesting and relevant training ever, both trainers were fantastic. Thanks for sharing your knowledge in a dynamic and interesting way
Millie Keith – Youth Offending Service Senior Practitioner, Coventry.
Thank you for presenting a day that was worth the wait and sharing your knowledge and enthusiasms with us all. I feel that it was one of the best presented days that I have attended in a long while and that the information you shared with us was practical and could be implemented with families to address their felt needs in a proactive manner thus enabling them to pursue their goals in partnership with services. Many Thanks
George Voulgaris, Nurse Specialist, CAMHS/YOTs Doncaster
Our specialist courses include the main model we work to: Solution Focused Brief Therapy (deShazer), the session frameworks from our own Examine, Repair & Move On (E.Murphy ’93) which includes The Change Balloon; The Silent Session; The Scale Walk and Tasks and Monitor charts – all designed to help staff in their work with families to begin the start of new behaviour rather than the notoriously difficult route for all of us – the stopping of old behaviour.
The training provides the worker with a clear structure for sessions and works to bring the family on a new journey – one which highlights existing competencies, reinforces strengths and resources within the family and encourages a move forward rather than only an exploration of the “stuckness” that necessitated the referral.
The approach is in keeping with good practice guidelines including the Effective Practice guidelines, Child in Need Assessments and offers evidence-based practice tools in that:
- It is child-focused and allows “listening” to the needs of the child
- The Solution Focused approach works with the whole family and involves examining what the issues are with each family member
- The child’s agenda is heard from the child’s perspective with the use of drawings: the Change Balloon, Relationship Map,
- Scaling Walk and other visuals from The Examine, Repair & Move On Approach (Murphy ’93)
- The approach looks at the child in the context of the family and their wider environment
- Throughout the sessions, the worker works in partnership with the parents and child
- The approach works with the strengths of the family and builds on them
- The cultural needs of the family are met throughout.
As well as equipping staff with the collaborative language of the Solution Focused model and the visuals and tools of the Examine, Repair & Move On Approach – the training also covers the importance of using specific resources to reduce conflict between worker and client – this is especially relevant when working with families.
We provide 1 – 3 day inhouse training courses across the UK, Ireland and beyond. To book inhouse training please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call on Tel 0208 947 8093 or on the office mobile 07779 242 289.
Our longer-term training course – a specialist staff and project development programme – the Prevention & Intervention Programme (P&I) has been utlized by twenty four local authorities across the UK as a front-line resource for working with families. This resource has allowed for substantial financial savings for local authorities while attracting social care awards.
No element of our work supercedes the protection of the child – all of our training courses emphasise that the statutory duty of the worker is to utilize their own Child Protection practices and guidance, including investigative skills. Child Protection procedures override the ethos and use of any model or theory when working with children – however utilizing the approach can often bring information to the surface that can help the worker in their overall work to ensure the safety of all the family group.