How we work – Intervention

Developing attachment/relationships
Objective: To build trust and strengthen positive relationships between family members.
What are the key elements of practice?
What we do and why:
  • Reproduce, between the individual child and parent, the experience of a positive, caring relationship that they have had with their field worker (under the Individual-Attachment stage above). The relationship created with the key worker is a useful reference for children and parents as they learn how to relate positively to each other. The key worker plays a facilitating role. For example, rather than the key worker helping a child with their homework, the key worker supports the mother in helping the child. This enables the key workers to start to reduce the intensity of their involvement in the family, as the parents become the most important figures in the child’s life and vice versa. It also involves a shift for the key workers from being there for the individuals, to acting as a support for the family as a whole.
  • Create opportunities for family members to get to know each other and promote the rules, routines, rituals and roles that help a family function successfully together (celebrating birthdays, conversations about likes, dislikes and feelings, talking about and modelling respectful interactions and language).
  • Create positive experiences for the family – which help to create positive shared family “memories”. Such experiences, facilitated by the key worker, create opportunities for interactions and communication that enable families to form healthy attachments.
  • Ensure that the work on attachment and processing at an individual level has been effective before attempting to bring the family group together.
Useful Techniques
  • Family days-out and excursions
  • Family life plans, life lines and diagnostic tools
  • Interactive video sessions
  • Parenting skills (setting limits, positive discipline, acknowledging and encouraging children’s strengths, modelling appropriate behaviour)
  • Family process skills – negotiating compromises between competing needs and interests within the family, facilitating shared decision-making.
  • Goal-setting, planning, organisational, problem-solving and re-framing techniques.
Case Study – Jonathan, Daniel and Mateo
Following more than 18 months of working intensively with Dona Grace and Don Fausto, the parents of Jonathan, Daniel and Mateo, and after supporting the boys individually and through school and community activities, everyone in the family now showed a much greater emotional capacity to relate more effectively to each other and to others. Nevertheless, the family had many memories involving fear, loneliness and hunger, and few positive memories. The key workers decided to take the family on a day trip to the beach. Pictures of the day were placed around the home. Similar outings helped the family create new positive memories. The family also began to see positive things in their day to day lives. Key workers would set up situations so the family could tell each other about these positive things. When the boys were asked to tell their mother something that she did that made each feel good, Jonathan said he liked it when she gave him rice and chicken for dinner; Daniel said he liked it when she hugged him; and Mateo said he liked it when she smiled. Grace immediately hugged each of her children with a huge smile on her face and said she would save up so they could have chicken for dinner next week. The whole family laughed and hugged and smiled. These seemingly small and simple experiences made a dramatic difference to the energy in the family home.