Workshops - Group A

Contemporary understanding of family therapy seems more and more to target an understanding where theoretically pre-prepared theoretical specifications, often supported by research findings and claims, are foundational. Either understood within a medical or contextual meta-model, the idea of pre-prepared theory-specific “practice-packages” are what defines a set of practices as therapy.

The workshop will, from experiences working with families that have tried prior therapies without getting help, speculate and suggest possible conceptual paths for practice. Using ideas from Scottish anthropologist Tim Ingold, Norwegian and English philosophers, Rani Lill Anjum and Stephen Mumford, French philosopher Gilles Deleuze and Dutch educational researcher and theorist Gert Biesta, an understanding of family therapy as a process of making practice will be introduced. This opens up both for generalized group based knowledge and singular knowledge for the unique individual and family.

Key words: Uniqueness-as-irreplacability; difference in itself, a dispositional view of causation , critique of the hylomorphic model, making.

Around 10 % of all children in Denmark under the age of 16 years are living with a chronic disease. On top of that are all the children who during their childhood suffers from longer lasting diseases. Living with a disease can be very stressful – not only for the child but also for the family. One of the things that makes living with a disease even more stressful is, if the child develops anxiety due to stress and trauma from medical treatment.

In my viewpoint three thing are very specific only to this group of traumatized children

  1. They come from loving families
  2. Trauma comes from incidents where intentions were good and often with parents as witnesses
  3. Trauma comes more often from many smaller events (cumulative trauma) than one big event.

If you have a hereditary or congenital disease, trauma is near. The younger you are when having treatments, the more likely you are to be traumatized. Even smaller things like blood tests can traumatize a child under the “right” circumstances.

Support from adults is crucial in both preventing trauma and in the treatment of trauma, when it comes to children.

In that light teaching parents and healthcare workers, how they can both prevent trauma from happening and treat the child if it has been traumatized is a new way of focusing our attention.

The help for these children is relatively easy – everybody can learn how.

In this workshop I will show you how

  • I helped a 3,5 years old boy and his parents – watch the video I will show here:
  • This help started with me being the specialist and within 3-4 months his parents were the specialists – so much they could evoke the correct help and support from healthcare workers
  • And why this help had significant impact on their entire family

Workshop: 45 min: Showing my practice 15 min: Workshop – how do you already, or how can you, in your work, give tools to the family, so they themselves become experts 15 min: Share practice-related stories

To see and read more about me go to:

Sine Lyons, Center for Hospitalsbørn, Master of Arts (MA), Infant therapist, narrative therapist

Parental substance use disorder (SUD) strongly affects children, regardless of the type of substance, socioeconomic background, and place of residence. What many of the children of parents with SUD have in common is their experience of fear, shame, and betrayal, but they also love and feel a closeness to their parents. Stigma and shame may stand in the way for children to be protected, maintenance of essential relationships, and to create meaning and coherence through conversations with trusted adults. Based on our research and many years of clinical experience working with families, we have established a three days’ seminar for patients in SUD treatment in Tyrili Foundation, who are parents. The seminar aims to help the parents to be aware of their children’s situation and struggle; to take their children’s perspectives and to figure out how they can talk with and support their children in better ways.

In the conference-workshop, we will present the background, content, and process of the seminar. We hope for engagement, discussions, and mutual inspiration in the work of helping parents with SUD and/or mental problems in supporting their children.

Turid Wangensteen, Researcher in Tyrili Foundation (defending the Phd-dissertation, 27th of March 2020, about children growing up with parental substance use disorder).

Sigrun Dalsaune Jansen, department manager in Tyrili Foundation, master degree in psychosocial work with children and families.

This workshop will include a live groupsession with fathers from my practice.

As a supplement to the conference’s Danish keynote speaker, this workshop invites participants to look at what cultural thoughts there are about masculinity. It’s always worth looking at which cultural norms the people we talk with are subject to and which practices this creates. For as Krishnamurti says, “We think we are thinking our own thoughts, but we are not, we are thinking our culture’s thoughts”.

From my own practice i have experienced that the norms of masculinity is a big og difficult issue especially for fathers that struggle in the making of fatherhood. Here become a linear approach to what a real man is, a co-creator of disorder and an opponent in the treatment. This is because the approach is full of norms that make fathers neglect how badly they are feeling and some so powerful that they almost shout at fathers that they are wrong when they suffer.

The workshop will give an insight into the fathers’ own thoughts on masculinity and perinatal depression, and look at how we as therapists can be co-creators of a space where common norms are challenged and give way to new identities; not just in relation to new fathers, but in working with men in general.

What kind of expertise does the team members in a child protection team think a family therapist brings to the team? In what way do the team members think that dialogical and systemic practices are possible in the context of child protection, especially in the context of control? What are the challenges? What are the opportunities? In what way do the client families think the child protection services are different when the family therapist is present in the meeting?

In a small research project, I answer the questions above. In the workshop I describe my impressions of the process of bringing systemic thinking and dialogical practices into child protection social work in the municipality of Porvoo. I reflect upon my own inner voices, role and positioning in the child protection team. I compare my findings with the findings in the national evaluation study (Aaltio & Isokuortti 2019) made by The National Insitute for Helath and Welfare (THL) in Finland.

The Systemic Practice Model for Child Protection was piloted in 14 regions as a part of the government’s key programme that aims to reform child and family services (LAPE) during 2017-2018. The systemic practice model is a multiple intervention based on systemic family therapy, which tries to achieve changes both in practice and organisation. The training for trainers is organised by The National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL) The Systemic Practice Model for Child Protection in Finland was inispired by the Brittish model Social Work Reclaimed (2012) that was piloted in Hackney in London.

The last four years I have been engaged as a trainer in training for trainers, also training the model in child protection teams in municipalities in Finland. My own learning experience came especially close to practice by working as a family therapist in a child protection team one day in a week for two years.

Katarina Fagerström
Family therapist
Master of social sciences

Systemic therapy in an expert oriented world Our symposium is based on four ongoing doctoral studies, that focus on systemic therapy within the nationwide Family Counselling Services in Norway. Traditionally, this 40-year old “special service” of diagnose-free and relational oriented therapy, was underpinned by systemic theoretical perspectives. However, the last decade there has been a shift towards a more intra-psychic, normative and linear scope of thinking that challenge the relational underpinnings of systemic therapy in this service. We will present projects on: 1) child involved family mediation 2) aiding children and divorced parents in prolonged conflicts and 3) supporting parents whose children are placed in public care. Further, we will elaborate on interrelatedness of power, expert knowledge and how knowledge is positioning the practice of therapy. We will reflect upon what discourses that embedding the technocracy of helping and whether research itself is limited to normative expert claims or relational knowledge.

To navigate the normative and the not-normative in systemic therapy This study reflects how professional practice in the Norwegian Family Counselling Services navigate between normative and not-normative approaches to therapy in the support of parents whose children are placed in public care. The study highlights the perspective of both parents and the therapists and raises dilemmas that occurs both in interaction between therapists and parents and in the collaboration with other welfare systems. Whether or not to believe in the parent’s stories seem make consequences of whether to grasp a socialconstructionist approach to therapy where the reality is situated. To adopt this approach might also complicate collaboration with other welfare services. This research contributes to current debate about challenges we see in the field of systemic therapy today, and Karl Tomms´ethical postures is used as a backdrop to visualise and discuss monological and dialogical approaches to therapy.

Aiding child positions of healthy resistance in entrenched family conflicts The risk of prolonged conflict is a dominant storyline in meetings with divorced families; portraying parents as conflicted co-parents and children as passive victims. Consequently, services are targeted to aid co-parents in solving or in taming the conflict and to master the art of coparenting. How should professionals respond to distressed family systems when parents remain in conflict, several years after the separation? What positions should systemic therapist take in aiding children? Could we find some hope in how children position themselves to family challenges? This later question will be discussed based on a qualitative study with in-depth interviews with children (9-16) in conflicted post-divorce families. Positioning theory was used as an analytic tool to explore children’s positions to address family challenges. Findings show that children assume three dominant positions of healthy resistance, and that family conflict is oppressive to what is coined positions of trust in the family system.

Children as participants in divorce-mediation In Norway, all parents with children under the age of 16 who want to separate, have to attend mandatory mediation. I this paper I want to look at children`s participation in mediation from a cultural psychological/sociocultural perspective. This is based on the thought that children development takes place through participation in daily life, under social, historical and cultural context, and the theoretical premises that the development and the participation are dependent factors. This is a qualitative study, using the empirical material from observation of children between 6-12 years participating in mediation, and interview with children and both parents after mediation. This paper specifically discusses how the members of the families place the mediator. Is the mediator a facilitator for families on how they speak about their divorce, or an expert approving and quality-controller for parents on how they handle their divorce?

Whose life is it anyway? Exploring the social relations of the high conflict divorce case

The presentation is based on a qualitative study with interviews of 20 Norwegian parents referred to a multi-family therapy group for parents and children living with high levels of conflict after divorce, and interviews with five child welfare workers and three judges. Applying concepts from the mode of inquiry known as institutional ethnography, I explore how a general category of social relations, that of the “high conflict divorce case,” comes to be realized in the local interplay between parents and professionals as they engage with each other around issues relating to post-divorce conflicts. Linking this to both translocal authoritative texts and the production of local administrative texts, I argue that the “high conflict divorce case” is currently narrowly constructed in late modern Western political and scientific discourse as a technical failure in parenting in need of correction. Exploring the social relations surrounding the high conflict divorce case from the standpoint of parents, I attend to disjunctions between this view of inter-parental conflict as sanctioned in authoritative texts, and the everyday knowledge and experience of parents identified as being in a high conflict. I argue that a generalized professional discourse seems to permeate the work that parents and professionals jointly engage in, sometimes subsuming the knowledge and experience of those involved. This might lead professionals and parents to collaboratively work towards addressing a problem that is not directly experienced, while downplaying or ignoring issues that are actually experienced.

What do we do when problems arise in school classes? When the atmosphere is not nice, when some students (and sometimes teachers) feel bad about coming to class, feel teased or excluded or a tone emerges that not everyone likes?

Can we create a culture that helps children and adults talk about some of the problems they sometimes experience and do not like – without making the problems grow? Could there be a point in creating that kind of culture, even before the problems arise? Cultures where it is possible to speak about some of the problems we experience – without too much fear that it will only make matters worse?

In recent years we have received a number of inquiries from teachers and parents who are faced with such situations. Often they say that the adults around the class have tried everything in an attempt to help and often they do not know what to do to change the situation.

Our impression is that they have usually done the best they have been taught – but it seems the best we have been taught does not always work. In such situations, we need to see how we might do things differently. A conceptual re-tooling In this workshop, we will present a process we have been using in different versions with children, teachers and parents in a number of classes who were in such situations. We illustrate the phases of the process – and some of the logics behind it.

When problems arise in schools, there are often some special logics that attract the adults. Our experience is that many of these logics advise adults to try to do something ‘to’ the children (and their parents) – for example by trying to instruct them in what they should or should not think or do to handle the situation. “You have to learn to say never mind”, “You have to talk nicely to each other” or “we have a class charter that must be followed”.

The process we present is based on logics that point to other paths. In our work with the schools, we have been inspired by practices developed in New Zealand, based on narrative ideas and ideas from Restorative Justice and working purposefully to create changes with a focus on doing something ‘with’ the children instead of try to do something ‘to’ them or ‘for’ them. The process we present contains examples of these logics – and of how they can be translated into concrete actions in everyday life.