Having spent the last few months thinking about the issues of delivering work to families online, interviewing practitioners (here and here) and a parent, and reading commentary and reports, I have formed in my head a series of questions, the responses to which seem fundamental to safe and respectful delivery of this particular type of work:
- Power. Who is defining the problem, the need, and the appropriate response? What demands are made in terms of compliance and availability? How are solutions negotiated and achieved?
- Technology. Access to devices, to broadband, to knowledge and skills.
- Space / Time. The possibility of being able to think clearly and speak safely. The possibility of making use of suggestions made within current family life. The possibility of escape.
- Monitoring of risk and safety. Awareness of coercive and controlling behaviours and their impact on the ability to monitor this remotely.
- Knowledge and skill sets. Including confidence in the issues and in technology, curiosity, creativity.
All of the work I have looked at so far has been designed originally for face-to-face delivery, and then adapted for online work. In contrast, The Kent Adolescent to Parent Violence programme for families with children aged 10-18 experiencing Child and Adolescent to Parent Violence (C/APV), currently being developed and piloted in Kent, has been written almost entirely with online delivery in mind. It was interesting then to see how these questions had been considered and answered. Elaine Simcock, Practice Development Officer within the CYP Directorate talked me through it. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
The publishers of Context, the magazine for members of the Association for Family Therapy, have graciously allowed me to pass on the link to the April 2014 issue of their magazine, which focuses on child to parent violence and NVR in particular as an appropriate model of work with families across many profiles.
Following the editorial from Alex Millham, you will find papers by a wide range of authors and practitioners. Continue reading
Two particular things stuck with me after my recent visit to listen to the Birmingham CAMHS team on the adoption of Non-violent Resistance (NVR) in their work with families:
- A pervading sense of thoughtful, calm, enquiring support of each other, with plenty of space built in to reflect on the work as it progresses – or not. It is not unusual for a sense of helplessness and hopelessness to transfer from families to workers, and supervision is vital to work through the pain.
- And a degree of realism that celebrates the successes of NVR as an approach, but also acknowledges that not everyone can be helped, not every act of violence prevented, not always a happy ending. When continued funding is dependent on “evidence” of something working, it is more usual to hear practitioners trumpeting their success rates, and so this honesty was refreshing.
As I was reminded recently while reading a report about the use of residential care for adolescents on the edge of care, we have a rather different model of residential provision in Britain to that in other European countries, where a placement in a therapeutic establishment with highly trained and qualified staff may be the norm rather than the exception for a young person unable to stay at home. Lesser professional qualifications required, residential care as last resort – the sector in Britain has suffered from a period of neglect itself, despite the fact that some of the most troubled young people will be placed in such homes, whether for lack of alternative or as a positive choice. It is sadly to be expected that staff in residential homes will experience levels of abuse and violence from children and teenagers struggling to come to terms with trauma in similar ways to families coping in the community, perhaps to an even greater extent, yet this receives less coverage still. Continue reading
(Screenshot. See below for link to the interview).
This week saw huge progress in the drive to make child to parent violence less of a hidden problem, with a headline story on Monday’s Victoria Derbyshire show on BBC2, presented by Joanna Gosling.
A film, produced by West Midlands journalist Noel Phillips, led the story, and there was studio discussion from me, alongside Ann Ramsden of the Rosalie Ryrie Foundation and Seamus Oates, Executive Head Teacher of TBAP, representing the Youth Justice Board. The Family Lives helpline was offered for anyone seeking more support or information, and Anastasia de Waal chair of Family Lives answered questions throughout the day on local radio stations also picking up the story. If you listen to local radio you may also have heard stories from other families experiencing violence, and local practitioners discussing their work.
The film features interviews with a mother whose son was eventually removed from the home following violence to her, two young lads speaking candidly about past violence and abuse towards their mother, interviews with Cherryl Henry-Leach, leader of the Doncaster programme – Getting On, and Peter Jakob of Partnership Projects.
I have been asked about the figure of 4 million families being affected, offered by Noel Phillips early on in the film. This comes from the 2012 4Children report, The Enemy Within, based on a YouGov survey, which asked families about their experience of conflict and violence.
We are all very excited to have been involved in this, and look forward to further development of these stories being taken up in the same way in the future.
The recent conference in Galway, hosted by the National University of Ireland in Galway, was an opportunity to hear about progress on the RCPV project and to meet the participants from around Europe, to learn more about NVR, and to meet practitioners from Ireland in particular who are already engaged in work with families experiencing violence from their children. Continue reading