How we work – Intervention

Applying learning
Objective: To help each child/parent find ways to use the healing process and the insights which came from this to guide their behaviour, decisions and practical life style.
What are the key elements of practice?
What we do and why:

During this phase, the focus is on helping individuals find meaning in what has happened to them and draw strength from repairing the damage they have occasioned others. It helps them use the lessons from their negative experience to benefit themselves and others. In a way, they are able to form a link between their past and present, and develop a sense of the future. The relationship between the child/parent and key worker continues to be central in this stage.

  • Supporting individuals to accept responsibility for what they have done to others and seek to repair the damage caused. We help them understand that while it is not their “fault” that they responded as they did in the past, it is their responsibility to learn to manage their feelings and find a new way to respond, so that they no longer cause damage (if they are perpetrators) or hurt themselves through their reactions (if they are victims of violence).
  • Helping children/parents find meaning in their experience and a purpose in their lives through establishing related goals. This is often “I won’t let this happen to my children”, “I will make sure my children have a better life than me” and “I’m not going to let the past continue to damage me and those around me”. It is about a child or parent deciding to be different and realising that they have choices to make even when the odds seem stacked against them. Goal-setting helps individuals move from survival strategies to hoping and planning for a future.
  • Helping them strengthen their current skills and acquire new ones in line with their strengths, interests and goals.
  • Building a supportive network around each child and parent to help them achieve their goals. At this stage the parent/child wants to seek help and they therefore genuinely begin to genuinely benefit from available services to start to integrate constructively into their communities.
  • Supporting children and parents in realising their goals, but taking a facilitating rather than a leading role once they have some success. It is important for key workers at this stage to resist the temptation to suggest other goals or actions. The role of the key worker is to identify positive elements and highlight and build on them.
  • Remaining patient. There will be times when things return to long established responses and patterns. At this stage there is a key difference, however, in that children and parents will generally acknowledge what is happening and ask for help.
Useful Techniques
  • Parenting techniques, effective discipline and conflict resolution skills. Once a parent decides they wish to provide a violence-free home, it becomes possible to share practical strategies to achieve this.
  • Goal-setting, problem-solving and re-framing techniques that enable individuals to think differently about challenges and organise themselves to achieve their goals.
  • Linking families with available community services and activities, such as healthcare, financial support schemes, formal education, safe employment, vocational training and addiction support services.
  • Working with external services so they understand the needs of individual children and/or parents and are willing to support them.
  • Helping individuals learn new skills to achieve their goals, including literacy, life skills, health and hygiene, etc.
Case Study – Diana
Diana had “lost” her first child to the street and did not know where she was. Her next two children craved her attention, but although they lived in the same physical space she had struggled to find the emotional wherewithal to give them any attention or affection. As she was helped to look at her own childhood and life history and the ways in which she was forced to cope with abuse and abandonment she came to develop a sympathy and compassion that she had previously denied herself. She then began to find a capacity in herself to genuinely think about her children’s needs. Both her children were in school but making no progress and Diana was illiterate. She asked her key worked to teach her to read so she could help her children learn to read. She also started a dance group in her neighbourhood so her children could be with other children and with her at the same time. Within months of their mother beginning to learn to read, her children also learned to read, as her interest in their learning made a huge difference to their sense of being supported and being important to her. This in turn not only influenced not only their motivation but actually seemed to impact upon their ability to remember what they were taught.

They began to make friends with local children as they proudly participated with them in their mother’s dance group. Diana herself began to be able to think about the smaller but essential needs of her children and began to spend time every day talking to them about their day to day lives.