Objective: To provide each member of the family – children and parents – with a reliable, positive relationship which mirrors that of a positive parent-child relationship, and which can then begin to inform the quality of other relationships in their lives.
What are the key elements of practice?
What we do and why:
At this stage the focus is on:
2Modelling a relationship which provides an alternative way to interact with others. A secure connection between the key worker and the child or parent will sustain future interventions with the individual and with the family as a whole. This close attachment will mean they are less likely to abandon the process when it becomes uncomfortable and difficult.
The following elements of practice are essential to creating this relationship:
- Providing individual consistent attention for each person. This helps make the relationship feel special for each family member and avoids jealousies that arise from having to share time and attention in this newly found relationship.
- Staff consistency. The same person must work with the child/parent each time.
- Visiting regularly, demonstrating reliability, and the importance given to an individual’s needs. As most people in the past will have proved unreliable, Juconi workers must always keep their word to demonstrate that this is a different kind of relationship. This includes being punctual and always keeping appointments.
- Listening carefully, accepting and responding to the needs the individual expresses and adapting to their schedules and priorities, to show that what they think and want genuinely matters to us.
- Tailoring responses to each relationship: What works for one, might not work for another.
- Holding the person in mind. Show that we remember what they have told us and that we have been thinking about them between visits.
- Including male family members. Work on violence in the home has often been strongly linked with gender-based violence and responses have usually targeted women and girls as the primary, if not exclusive, beneficiaries. Involving male family members is a powerful catalyst to changing family dynamics and increases the likelihood of sustained change. As “the home” and children are often seen as the province of mothers, as special effort may well be required to include the men in this work with the family. Empowering mothers without including male partners can lead to more violence if men feel sidelined and do not have the skills to participate in any other way.
- Encouraging strengths in each person, and highlighting those strengths observed in the child and parent, enabling the relationship to be experienced more positively and providing a basis for future work on change.
- Reframing: taking opportunities to show things in a different light. For instance, with the mother who complains about her child’s incessant questions, find the moment to compliment her on having such a curious child.
- Being consistent and expecting to be tested. Individuals may behave in challenging ways. Our practice has to involve consistency, patience, repetition, and “not taking the bait”. We must show that we are prepared to stick with them no matter how difficult they try to make it, as this is the stage when a child or parent may seek to push us away.
Observation of patterns of behaviour and interactions between family members is important to begin developing hypotheses about the experiences that might have generated such patterns and their current effect on the lives of family members. In the next stage of the process, we creatively find ways to help each person make this link between the past and present. It is important to keep an open mind always, to be curious and continue enriching the hypotheses with information drawn from different sources over time.
- Active listening
- A strengths-based approach
- Creative activities such as drawing
- Helping a parent/child with their chores