International Commission on Couple and Family Relations

2013 Workshops

WORKSHOP 1

HOW CAN GOVERNMENT ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT EFFECTIVE EARLY INTERVENTION?

Maria Hildingsson will present different policies aimed at encouraging and supporting early intervention, drawing on concrete and recent examples from several European countries. She will focus on local, national and European initiatives in the policy making areas concerning the state, quality and evolution of couple relationships (family policy, conciliation of family life and work, health).

Maria will emphasise the benefits of these policies, for the couples and their family, and society as a whole in terms of health, social and economic outcomes. In the light of the soaring rates of separation and divorce throughout Europe, ideas on how to reach out to young people and encourage them to be confident in their capacity to establish a relationship and maintain it would be particularly highlighted.

Presenter:

Maria Hildingsson
Secretary General of the FAFCE (European Federation of Catholic Family Associations)

 

WORKSHOP 2

THE KIDS’ TURN WAY: HOW TO POSITIVELY ‘RELATE’ TO EACH OTHER

The Kids’ Turn Way is a unique programme that not only focuses on the relationship challenges faced by separating couples but also ensures that children affected by separation and divorce have a voice. This interactive workshop will provide an opportunity for participants to discover how Relate and Kids’ Turn USA worked together to develop the successful Kids’ Turn Way programme to make it relevant for families in the UK, how the Programme works and the impact it has had on the families that were involved in the pilot. Participants will also be given the opportunity to view the exciting developments that Kids’ Turn USA and Relate have for the Kids’ Turn Way.

Presenters:

Claire Barnes (USA)
MA, Executive Director
Kids’ Turn

Jeff Abadie (USA)
President, Board of Directors
Kids’ Turn

Sarah Keenan (UK)
Service Manager
Relate

Jamie Murdoch (UK)
Head of Service Development
Relate Central Office

 

WORKSHOP 3

THE ALABAMA HEALTHY MARRIAGE AND RELATIONSHIP EDUCATION INITIATIVE: 10 YEARS OF ENHANCING CHILD AND FAMILY WELL-BEING IN A LOW-RESOURCE STATE

This workshop will explicate the 10-year experience of a federally sponsored university–community partnership. The Alabama Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education Initiative (AHMREI) is a large-scale partnership between Auburn University’s Center for Children, Youth, and Families, The Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs, 10 Family Resource Centers located around the state, and local partners that include domestic violence prevention agencies, school systems, child support agencies, Children’s Policy Councils and Head Start centers. Programme components and the population groups served by the AHMREI are: 1) public advertising campaigns on the value of healthy couple relationships and the availability of community programmes, 2) relationship education for youth on skills that support healthy dating and future couple relationships, 3) couple and co-parenting relationship skills training for low-resource, non-married parents, 4) relationship education and skills training for non-married couples and singles, and 5) marriage enhancement education for married couples. The workshop will include information on the programme’s development through pilot studies, methods for partnership building and core elements of the educational programmes and the implementation methods. The use of an iterative approach to programme development resulted in lessons learned that will also be shared. In addition, we plan to highlight the results of several studies of programme outcomes and impact on programme participants and their children and families.
Presenter:

Francesca Adler-Baeder, PhD
Director, Center for Children, Youth, and Families
Professor, Human Development and Family Studies Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama

 

WORKSHOP 4

EARLY INTERVENTION COUPLES THERAPY WITHIN RELATIONSHIPS AUSTRALIA: WHAT IS AT THE HEART OF THE FAMILY SERVICES AGENDA, THE DIFFERENCES AND CHALLENGES WHEN WORKING WITH DIVERSE CULTURES AND LOCATIONS?

This workshop will discuss how we are working in Australia supporting couples’ emotional well-being and healthy respect for each other. It will describe the early intervention approaches and consider the different elements and challenges for services, practitioners and funding bodies, as we work with couples from diverse backgrounds and locations. The workshop will offer interactive discussion about each participant’s experience, challenges and work in this regard within their programmes.

Presenters:

Pamela Lewis
Director of Client Services, RA NSW
Grad Couple & Family Therapy, B Social Work

Susan Visser
Director of Clinical Practice, RA WA
BA Social Work Hon

Gail Westcott
Senior Manager, Clinical Services RA NSW.
BA Psych, Grad Dip Couple & Family Therapy, Assoc MAPS, Reg Psychologist NSW, Grad Cert Supervision

 

WORKSHOP 5

THE MISSING LINK IN SOCIAL POLICY – WHY COUPLE RELATIONSHIPS PRESENT POLICY MAKERS WITH SUCH A CHALLENGE

Policy-makers, commissioners of health and social care services and frontline staff need to make the quality of couple relationships a central focus of their work and no serious attempt to improve people’s health and well-being can afford to overlook the fundamental role which the quality of our close relationships has on our lives. However, within the political landscape there often seems to be a difficulty with developing realistic policy at central and local level. Is this because supporting couples engenders extremes of feeling that few other areas of social policy do?

This workshop will explore the challenges of developing a modern, progressive narrative around the support of couple relationships. In this interactive workshop, we will encourage participants to explore and create positive policy messages and to share experiences of how relationship policy has been developed within their own countries.

Presenters:

Susanna Abse, Couple psychoanalytic psychotherapist and CEO of The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships

Richard Meier, Policy and Communications Manager at The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships.

 

WORKSHOP 6

EDUCATIONALLY DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN AND YOUTH IN FAMILIES AT RISK AND IN CRISIS

From a history of imbalances in many areas of the South African community and currently, the country is in transition from the old regime to the new. As in other parts of the world, there are families in crisis in which are children and youth at risk educationally and in many ways. Political harmony and other strategies in the intersectoral context should be encouraged as leverage in addressing socio-economic problems of the country, as well as responding to judio-social and economic needs of the children and youth at risk by undertaking early intervention into families in crisis. Families as the units of a nation should receive attention to their needs, and it is of paramount importance that governments should make every effort to pre-empt crises by early intervention through democratic intersectoral collaboration. The government should tackle problems in education, health, housing, legal protection, social welfare, recreation and so forth at an early stage of the growth and development of children and young, which will minimise crises in families. Recommendations include building and supporting care centres, runaway centres, community centres and places of safety on a long term and short term basis. Dangers to children and young people, such as drug abuse, can be avoided through formal and informal education inter alia. The United Nations has a role to play in using its global mandate to help solve the problems of families in crisis.

Presenter:

Pancho Hajane, South African Government Education Department

 

WORKSHOP 7

CRISIS YOUTH CARE NETWORK IN FLANDERS, BELGIUM

From 2008 onwards, in Flanders, Belgium, youth care institutions have been collaborating to create networks that can assist families and children in a crisis. The core idea of the crisis networks (Crisis Youth Care) is that by giving customised aid quickly, change can occur within the family. The basic operational feature of the model is the 24/7 crisis hotline. In addition to the hotline, peripatetic, rapidly deployable ways of intervention, coaching and residential care are further means of assistance. The hotline receives calls pertaining to more than 3,000 children and young people every year.

The scheme allows caregivers to implant basic safety within the family and to help members of the family cope with their most urgent problems and needs at the micro level. But also there are some benefits for other actors in society (police departments, schools, medical emergency services…) when they are faced with crisis situations involving minors.

Questions that will be addressed during the workshop arise from everyday practice:

• How can caregivers maintain safety (e.g. in situations of severe domestic violence)?
• What if children are in need of urgent help but the parents refuse to give permission for it? What if the parents do not agree between themselves?

This workshop will inform participants about the structure of the networks and the underlying principles. Also, the results of a recent scientific study of the experiences of families within Crisis Youth Care will be presented.

Presenter:

Johan Tuerlinckx, Department of Welfare, Public Health and Family, Flanders, Belgium

 

WORKSHOP 8

EVIDENCE- BASED INNOVATIONS THAT OVERCOME THE BARRIERS TO SEEKING HELP WHEN IT IS FIRST NEEDED

OnePlusOne’s distinctive approach has been to use evidence of barriers to seeking help – availability, accessibility, acceptability and affordability (Ayles et al., 2005; Ramm et al., 2010) – to design approaches that overcome them. These approaches will be described using material from a new programme, Getting it Right for Children When Parents Part, which introduces separated parents to the skills that will enable them to avoid putting their child in the middle of their conflict and provides them with opportunities to practise those skills so they can manage their stress and distress, communicate directly and clearly with their ex, get beyond impasses, make arrangements for their children and parent collaboratively.

The programme uses a Behaviour Modelling Training design, an effective, psychologically based training approach that produces sustainable improvements across a range of skills (Gellat et al., 2010; Taylor et al., 2005). The formative evaluation that is ongoing is showing promising results.

Based on this work, OPO is developing a new service for the Department of Work and Pensions Innovation Fund, targeting parents at an early stage in separation. The service will respond to the needs of parents in different circumstances, available both online and offline.

Presenter:

Penny Mansfield CBE, Director, OnePlusOne

 

WORKSHOP 9

MAKING ADULT ATTACHMENT STICK! – EARLY INTERVENTION IN NEW RELATIONSHIPS

Recent research on adult attachment has resulted in the emergence of a coherent theory of intimate adult relationships. This theory suggests that the glue that holds these relationships together is the emotional bond between the partners. That bond is reinforced by practical caring for one another and by experiencing their sexual relationship as a key part of reinforcing their emotional bond. In developing Emotionally Focused Couple Therapy, Professor Susan Johnson and colleagues at the University of Ottawa have identified patterns of interaction between partners that can be either negative or positive.

This workshop will explore how a relationship preparation programme incorporating these principles can equip couples both to recognise these patterns and to build the skills to reinforce the positive patterns and break out of the negative ones.

The workshop will give a brief overview of the theoretical background and then introduce some of the exercises that couples would be given in order to enable participants in the workshop to experience for themselves the impact of this approach.

If further developed, this approach could be used to identify ‘at risk’ couples who could then be offered additional help.

Presenters:

Charles and Jane Perryman (UK)
Marriage Care

 

WORKSHOP 10

THE INTERSECTION OF THE HAGUE CONVENTION ‘GRAVE RISK OF HARM DEFENSE’ AND BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD

The purpose of the seminar is to examine the relationship between the Hague Convention ‘grave risk of harm defense’ and the best interests of the child standard from the US and UK/European perspectives. In doing so, we will provide a brief introduction to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. We will examine the purpose of the ‘grave risk of harm defense’ and how it has been interpreted in the various jurisdictions. Lastly, we will discuss recent developments that take the defense into the realm of the best interests standard.

Presenters:

Brent Seymour (USA)
Certified Specialist, Family Law
The State Bar of California, Board of Legal Specialization
Schapiro Thorn, Inc.

Anne-Marie Hutchinson, OBE (UK), Partner at the law firm of Dawson Cornwell in London

 

WORKSHOP 11

DIFFERENT CULTURES, DIFFERENT METHODS, ONE GOAL: DECREASING THE INCIDENCE OF MARITAL CRISIS THROUGH MARRIAGE PREPARATION PROGRAMMES

Many professionals are concerned about the increasing frequency of divorce in modern society. Research has revealed that the teaching and coaching of couples on how to have a happy, healthy and stable relationship can contribute significantly towards stemming the rising tide of family breakdown.

Couples can improve the quality of their relationship by attending an organised pre-marital course, which offers them training on a broad range of subjects, ranging from self-awareness to knowledge of other family issues (finances, sexuality, parenting); from interactive skills (communication, conflict resolution) to further opportunities for continued growth (including spiritual) of the couple. Of course, the methods/content of marriage preparation are bound to differ according to the socio-cultural context of the couple and there are unique differences (but also similarities) when one compares, for example, preparation for civil marriage vs.sacramental marriage.

During this workshop, it is our aim to provide the participants with a cross-cultural look at what pre-marital programmes offer – be it a one-day programme, specifically targeted at couples who traditionally would not access any form of preventative couple relationship education (such as that offered by Care for the Family in the UK) or a more intense preparation course aimed at couples opting for sacramental marriage (such as that offered by the Cana Movement in Malta).

We shall also explore what approaches are the most successful in attracting couples to these marriage preparation programmes.

Since marriage preparation should involve the efforts of professionals and other qualified individuals to help spouses build skills and awareness, what are the qualities that the mentoring couples should possess in order to be effective?

In conclusion, we will also discuss how these marital preparation programmes may be set within the broader context of a more substantial national family policy that promotes families as the cornerstone of society.

Presenters:

Christine Galea (Malta)
Executive Secretary of the Council, Cana Movement; Member of Service Team and Administrator, Genesis2
Institute for Marriage and the Family; part time lecturer at the Institute of Pastoral Formation of the Archdiocese of Malta

Matt Meads (UK), Marriage Support Manager at Care for the Family