Ready for change?

I’ve been thinking more about my last blog (“What works?”), and whether other things are needed too for successful, supportive and healing work with families where there is child to parent violence and abuse. This was prompted in part by a recent Partnership Projects blog post from Peter Jakob and Jill Lubienski, looking at the importance of motivation to change.

Before everyone rushes in, can I say that I acknowledge that many families are highly motivated and have been banging on doors asking for help for significant lengths of time, and that the blockage is most definitely not at their end! Nevertheless, it is important also to recognise that CPVA impacts many different families and for many different reasons, and in some cases, families may be expected to engage in a piece of work not of their choosing. By which I don’t mean classic parenting classes. A couple of examples: one family may have been referred to a programme as part of a wider piece of work, or through the courts; or they may come to a service voluntarily but very clearly identify the problem as rooted in the child or young person, expecting them to make all the changes. If we identify the issue of child to parent violence and abuse as a relationship issue, then we seek to bring about change also within the relationship, and not simply for one individual.

As always, once I start thinking about something it pops up everywhere in conversations and reading, so I was interested to hear that this was something that other practitioners were tackling at the moment.

What stands out for me is the importance of time, to be able to hold families until they reach a point where they can usefully access a programme, rather than simply sending them away. This time might be used to build relationships and trust, both fundamental components of therapeutic work, and the building blocks on which change can take place (particularly perhaps where the young person has additional needs). It might also be crucial to be able to monitor and ensure safety. Being able to do this will depend of course on the funding stream and what is “allowed” in terms of length of engagement – how callous that sounds when you spell it out, but sadly that is where we are for some organisations with the current budgetary constraints. My hope is that the greater attention given to CPVA through Lockdown will feed in to improved and enhanced provision for families, coming not simply from an urgent need to “fix” things, but rather from a desire to understand the issues more fully and to embed a response within and across all services, giving time and hope to those who need it.

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