Tag Archives: Eddie Gallagher

Taking #CPV services online, Part 1

As we entered lockdown in March in the UK, there was significant anxiety initially that families would find it impossible to access the help they needed across many service areas, quickly followed by the development of an online offer, which has continued to evolve and improve over the ensuing months. It is clear that things will remain “different” for a long time, as we get used to living in this new world; but there is already a lot we have learned, and as always we can benefit from sharing and learning together.

In the first of what I hope will be a series of posts exploring taking services online, I bring you an interview / discussion with a team of practitioners in Bedford, using the Who’s In Charge? programme to support families experiencing violence and abuse from their children.

 

What is the programme that you deliver? Can you give a little detail for those unfamiliar with it

The Who’s in Charge? (WIC) parenting programme is designed specifically to support parents where their child/ren are displaying violent behaviours towards them or their siblings, this can be physically, emotionally or psychologically. It is an evidenced based parenting programme developed by Eddie Gallagher and has been designed as a part-therapeutic, part-skills based programme. The programme is designed to challenge deterministic thinking; with the underpinning belief that “parents are part of the solution and not part of the problem”. Four Who’s in Charge? trained facilitators (Rebecca Hall, Heather Noble, Sonia Rai and Julia Weatherill) deliver the programme as part of parenting support offered by the Early Help team at Bedford Borough Council.

 

How does it normally work? What level of communication is there normally between sessions, do you check in, is there always some online / phone contact?

The Early Help Parenting team receives referrals from a variety of professionals to work with families in need of support from the WIC programme. Referrals are made to the Early Help Allocation Panel  through an Early Help Assessment, as an outcome of a Team Around the Family meeting or a social care joint working request or step down request. Following this, Rebecca contacts all families via telephone and/or email to outline the programme in greater detail and to talk through what is happening for them within their family at present. Once a family accepts a place on the course, an information pack is sent out with all of the handouts for each week of the programme. Accompanying this is a letter outlining the information of the group facilitators, session details and so on. We will make contact with a parent in-between sessions if a parent would like to talk something over in more detail or if a parent has seemed to be particularly upset during one of the sessions.

 

With lockdown, one of the first things that happened was a sense that it would be difficult for people in trouble to access help. How did you / your organisation get things moving after lockdown?

As a Borough we have been very proactive in creating a robust parenting offer to parents across Bedford. We identified that we were able to deliver WIC online: all families who were referred to the programme were contacted and offered the option of  completing the programme virtually via Zoom.

We have offered a virtual run through for parents who have been nervous about accessing the programme virtually.

“As we implemented this quite early on in lockdown it has been successful. I feel that the parents we have had in the zoom discussion have been more open and comfortable via zoom than they would be in person and probably because they are in the comfort of their own homes” said Sonia.

A number of options were also offered to those parents who did not feel comfortable completing the programme on line, these have included:

  • being able to complete a face to face group when it is safe to do so
  • accessing our parent led Triple P online programme (3-12yr olds and 13-18yr olds)
  • accessing one-off Triple P webinars on a variety of different topics including managing challenging behaviours; managing fighting and aggression, reducing family conflict and coping with teenagers’ emotions
  • sign-posting and linking in with voluntary organisations who have delivered webinars for SEN children with violent and challenging behaviours

 

What are you currently offering? How is it different? How is it the same?

We are still offering the same number of sessions and have tried to accommodate families with small children by adapting start and finish times, which has worked well. Normally we would stick with the same times if sessions are face-to-face.

Many parents commented that “they preferred sessions online because they are at home, don’t need to find childcare and can be available for their children who are just in the next room” adds Julia.

 

What would you say you have learned from the experience?

“I have learnt that we are all very adaptable; as a practitioner I have really enjoyed doing the virtual WIC programme, I was initially worried about levels of engagement and technical difficulties, however in reality our groups have been fantastic and all participants have shared more openly”, says Rebecca.

“I have learnt that there are always other options when restrictions such as lockdown apply to help the families at the most vulnerable times in their lives. Parents are living with their children 24/7 so are more likely to put strategies into place sooner as they are more available. It has been discussed that maybe once or twice a year we could hold an in-person coffee morning where parents could meet each other and create a support network” adds Sonia

I have learnt that we are all very adaptable

“I have learnt that WIC online is not much different to our face-to-face programme: parents still engage really well, they do not talk over each other, (they are patiently waiting for their turn to speak, parents are apologising to each other if they accidently interrupt someone), they are still supporting each other, sharing ideas and reassuring each other. To be honest, by the third week I almost forget that all of these parents are not in the room with me, it feels natural as it would normally be if we are all together in one room” says Julia

“Having had a lifelong dislike of online technology I have learned that with a bit of practice it’s not that bad after all! I actually enjoy delivering the program virtually, it seems more relaxed which makes it easier for parents to engage with the material,” says Heather

 

What things will you change for good as you continue to offer support in future?

“I would like to continue to offer the programme virtually as well as in person, this provides greater access and opportunity to reach as many families as we possibly can. We work with a number of families who might have childcare difficulties, find it hard to travel or who are extremely anxious about leaving their homes or having to physically walk into a group. Virtual programmes are a way of bridging the gap for these families” explains Rebecca

“I would like to think that we could offer WIC sessions in person when we are allowed to and WIC sessions online for parents who have no childcare and have to stay at home. This way everyone gets an equal opportunity to access the support” says Sonia

This provides greater access and opportunity to reach as many families as we possibly can.

 

What do you worry about most?

We definitely must continue face-to face parenting programmes, not move every service online

“I worry that people will become more anxious and not want to leave the house as they are now accessing services online” says Sonia

“Face-to-face parenting programmes have various purposes, one of them meeting with people who are going through similar difficulties. They are also valuable for people who feel lonely and isolated and need to have support network. We also need to remember those parents who have social anxiety and it is beneficial for them to make small steps to overcome it by attending small groups. With that in mind, we definitely must continue face-to face parenting programmes and not move every service online” adds Julia

 

What has surprised you?

“The commitment of parents has surprised me and how well people have engaged in this programme. We have made ourselves more available and this could be why parents are so engaging” says Sonia

“The support the parents still give each other online really surprised me, I thought it would be stiff and business like but it might actually be just as powerful as parents feel safer as they are in their own homes, comfortable and not worrying about their children. I was also surprised how easy it was to co-facilitate but perhaps that is because we are all very supportive of each other and as we all trained at the same time, found a natural way of working together” adds Heather.

 

What advice would you offer to other people thinking about offering help online?

“Go for it! Do not suffer in silence, we are all in this together and it’s important that we work with parents to shape what you’re doing to meet their needs. It is a learning curve but barriers can be overcome and it will work well” says Sonia

If parents who live with an abusive child can do it … then I can put up with being a little bit uncomfortable in front of the camera!

“I think the lockdown created opportunities for all of us to think outside the box and helped me personally come out of my comfort zone to try things I would normally be uncomfortable with (like presenting WIC programme online and see other people watching me, also watching myself talk would normally make me blush and feel VERY uncomfortable), but it was amazing how quickly I got used to it. What helped me continue with the group is the sense of being helpful to parents who are struggling with their children and who wanted to try anything to make it better for their families and if parents who live with an abusive child can do it (come to the group online and share their difficulties with people they had just met), then I can put up with being a little bit uncomfortable in front of the camera. I also have a sense of achievement, I can’t believe I can use Zoom, something I did not even know existed back in February!!!!” shares Julia

“Have a practice, get to know how the video conferencing Platform operates, YouTube has tutorials. The more comfortable YOU are, the more comfortable the parents will be. I would suggest sending the online invites out 24-48 hours before the group. Any closer to the group and some parent might have become anxious they have not got it but any longer than 48 hours they might lose the email or forget about the group” says Heather

 

Is there anything you would like to tell funders or commissioners?

Who is in Charge? is a very helpful and vital programme that needs to be advertised everywhere so parents can access this and know there is light at the end of the tunnel and they are not alone in parenting. If you would like further information on how to access the Who’s in Charge in Bedford Borough, please email parenting.referrals@bedford.gov.uk.

 

It is so encouraging to hear about how services have adapted, keeping in mind the needs of families – and about how we are all able to learn from the current situation about ourselves and our own skills if we are open to do so! 

If you are thinking of taking a service online, but not sure how to go about it, I hope this might have been helpful. For more information about the safeguarding aspects of working online, do check out the guidance from Digisafe.  For more information about the Who’s in Charge? programme generally, check out the website run by the team in the UK. 

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Who’s in Charge? A much awaited book from Eddie Gallagher

 

Many of us have been waiting a long time for this book to appear. Whether you prefer to think about it as a bible or a brain is up to you, but the 500+ pages represent the outpouring of Eddie Gallagher’s understanding and thinking over nearly 25 years in the field of children’s violence and abuse towards parents, drawing on both available literature and his own significant practice experience, working with families individually and in developing the Who’s in Charge? model of work with parents. Continue reading

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An evening with Eddie Gallagher

Eddie will be visiting London on 20th September and there is an opportunity to meet with him to talk about child to parent violence and the Who’s in Charge? programme, which he developed many years ago in Australia. Eddie will also have copies of his book, Who’s In Charge? Why children abuse parents and what you can do about it, which is to be published at the end of this month.

The evening is designed for Trained WIC? facilitators, commissioners, managers, and practitioners wanting to know more about CPV and the WIC? programme.

Booking is essential for this event. Please see the Events and Training page of this website for more information.

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Child to parent violence: Is it increasing?

Campaigning in this field, one of the most frequent questions I am asked is, “Is it increasing?” whether from journalists, interested members of the public, friends, professionals or families themselves. I admit to finding this a struggle to answer. Without a proper baseline, how can we ever tell? Are you asking for solid evidence or an anecdotal and impressionistic response? The logical, social scientist bit of me screams in pain as I offer the answer “possibly, probably”. Continue reading

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Summer #CPV harvest

I am often asked how I come across the news, articles and publications that I tweet and blog about, in relation to child to parent violence (CPV). My original rationale for this site was along the lines of  “I do it so you don’t have to”, but of course things are never that straight forward, and the truth is much more like “we do this together”. But here goes: Continue reading

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CPV: So what does it look like, Part 1.

This is a post I have had in mind for a while, and which has been changing shape faster than I can write. As a result, this is going to be part 1, and I will continue the discussion over the next weeks and months. It really develops two themes and questions: what are we actually talking about when we present training or speak about child to parent violence (CPV); and where are the edges of the definition – what’s included, who’s included, and what and who’s not? It is something we need to address. I am often asked for examples to illustrate a discussion or seminar. It is lazy to simply assume that people understand the concept just because we have become familiar with it. “The outside world find it hard to imagine. As a mother you don’t broadcast it to the outside world because its not something you’re particularly proud of.” (Rosie Noble) But as more and more people start to speak out and to use the phrase “child to parent violence” it inevitably stretches a bit at the edges.

Many years ago now – by CPV standards – Eddie Gallagher gave a handy list of the types of family situation that might be affected (in his experience) by child to parent violence. Since then the list has grown, and it inevitably includes examples that make us a bit squeamish in including them under an official definition: severely disabled children for instance, or those acting in self defence. I have sometimes pondered how parents themselves feel about including themselves in a CPV definition. Indeed, I have asked parents of children with ASD whether they feel it is appropriate to their situation. Is that how they experience the situation? Do they feel they need to protect their child by rejecting the definition? Are the types of help currently available completely inappropriate to their situation and so it does not seem to include them? I  meet parents of children with a learning disability who describe persistent and escalating levels of violence and abuse, that in many ways matches the experience of families with adopted children, or families who have experienced domestic violence, or with mental ill health. And of course in each situation there may be layer upon layer to consider. There is rarely one clear cause or trigger, and for each family it will look and feel slightly different.

Is it taboo to admit your child with disabilities hits or bites you? On Woman’s Hour, on February 21st, Jane Garvey introduced a segment about caring for a child with disabilities. You can hear the programme here, and the discussion lasts from the start to 25 minutes in. There are interviews with Nikita, parent of a five year old child, Nayan, with microcephaly, who shows tremendous resilience in the face of regular tantrums and lashing out which comes from frustration; with Rosie Noble, Family Support Manager at Contact a Family, who offers reassurance that things can get better; and with Yvonne Newbold, mother of Toby, who has written extensively about caring for a child with disability. Yvonne has since blogged about the experience of appearing on the programme, and about her decision to speak out. I highly recommend her blog both for the honesty of the encounter, and for information about Yvonne’s wider campaigning to improve support for families experiencing long term, significant levels of violence from their learning disabled children. I’m not going to repeat the details here. If you are interested in knowing more about Yvonne’s experience then please do check out her website. She has organised a groundbreaking conference for the coming weekend, following her Woman’s Hour appearance, and I hope to post more information about her campaigning in the coming weeks.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think Nikita’s situation would be included by many people within a CPV definition. That is not to diminish the level of violence she and her husband face – and sadly may continue to experience, but to question the level of control or intent involved in the hitting and lashing out. But how will we feel as Nayan becomes older, bigger and stronger? What about Yvonne and Toby – how is their situation different? Is it different? The issue of intent is one I will return to in later posts, as it seems to be a central part of the conversation, and yet raises more questions than it answers.

If that’s not enough questions, I want to conclude by drawing some thoughts together and throwing a final one out there for discussion.

When we discuss child to parent violence we are not talking about the odd push or shove, about stroppy teenagers, or about an argument we once had that got out of hand. The phrase is used to describe a pattern of persistent and often escalating violence and abuse over perhaps years, from a child or young person towards their parent or carer. The routes to CPV are many and varied, and frequently overlapping. Each family situation is unique, and yet there are many commonalities, not least in the actual day to day experience and damage – physical and emotional that is done. Nikita describes the pain and hope of living with a disabled child. Yvonne has years of experience and has taken a decision to break the silence, to encourage others to speak out, and to campaign for better support. These are just two examples of what CPV might look and feel like.

So my question(s): Does that help your understanding or does it complicate it? And if you have a disabled child yourself, how do you feel about being included within the definition of child to parent violence? As always, please do join in the conversation!

May 3rd 2017: I’m adding on a bit here rather than starting a new post, because I think it furthers these particular thoughts. 

Yvonne Newbold has continued to add to her own website over the last weeks, and this includes a page about dealing with violent and challenging behaviour from children and young people with neuro-disabilities. I think it is significant that Yvonne chooses to use this phrase – VCB rather than CPV – in this situation.

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Who’s in Charge? Practitioners speak!

Who’s in Charge? is a nine week programme developed specifically to support parents who are experiencing violence and abuse from their children. Originally designed in Australia by Eddie Gallagher, Who’s in Charge? has more recently become the go-to programme in parts of south-east England – a testament to the recognition and success of a training team based at Awareness Matters in Suffolk. Just this month, the Who’s in Charge? programme has been awarded the CANparent quality mark:  a recognition of the effectiveness, professionalism and standards of governance displayed and evidenced.

Cathy Press and Carole Williams have offered the Facilitators training now for several years and have worked with professionals across domestic violence agencies, youth offending and children services; as well as the independent sector. In this short video, a number of practitioners talk about their experience of child to parent violence, and the impact this programme has had on the families they work with on a day to day basis.

Who’s in Charge? from Offshoot Films on Vimeo.

If you would like to know more about the programme, or about the facilitator training courses available, see the Awareness Matters website where you will find further information and contact details.

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Parent Abuse: Gender issues in group work

Not a very snappy headline I’ll grant you but the alternative was too cheesey – “Keeping gender on the agenda”. Yeah, I know…..

While there are a small number of studies that have found little difference between the violence and abuse from young women and young men towards their parents, the general accumulation of research seems to point otherwise, and it is likely that this discrepancy can be accounted for by the type of survey, the type of data examined, the particular expression of violence or abuse, or the ages of the young people involved. Eddie Gallagher has a chapter on gender in his commentary on the literature regarding child to parent violence, and he confirms the experience of those involved in clinical practice or the legal world, as well as recent research in Oxford and Brighton, that boys are three or four more times as likely to be involved in CPV than are girls. This difference is most markedly shown as the age increases, and the level of violence worsens. This is not to deny that many girls and young women are extremely violent and abusive towards their parents; and Gallagher also suggests that their levels of violence may be increasing. Continue reading

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Child to parent abuse: “The pointy end of entitlement”

The Australian media have offered considerable coverage of child to parent violence and abuse over the last year, as conferences have taken place, reports have been published, or police figures made public. But the most recent piece,  about this in the Sydney Morning Herald, was more disappointing in depicting an inevitable new world order of weak, ineffective parents and controlling, over-entitled children. Testimony from parents was matched by commentary from psychologists and educators, all stressing the changing environment and culture that young people grow up in today, and predicting mental health problems to come as this generation matures to adulthood. Continue reading

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Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse Towards Parents: book review

With many papers and now two books to her name, Amanda Holt is a leading voice in the field of adolescent to parent violence and abuse (APVA), not just in the UK, but also around the world. APVA is a small but developing field, where networking provides a key method of information exchange, and it was through discussions with other academics and practitioners that the idea for this book was born. Working with Adolescent Violence and Abuse Towards Parents: Approaches and contexts for intervention explores both the different theoretical bases and approaches to the work, and the very different contexts in which it takes place. Continue reading

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