Family Group Conferencing:
I offer facilitation of Family Group Conferences focused on children and families referred by community or government child protection agencies. I also offer FGC's to families who engage my service privately. In addition, I offer consultation, training and professional supervision to private practitioners, community agency and statutory workers who are engaged in Family Group Conference facilitation.
The purpose of Family Group Conferencing is to bring together families, close friends, 'villages' and communities, as well as where appropriate, children themselves [all those who have an interest in, or investment in the lives of the children who are the subjects of the FGC meeting process] to take responsibility and ownership for developing plans to address the identified needs of the subject child and their family. The emphasis is to wherever possible enable family groups to develop plans which can be resourced by the family and community group itself. Best outcomes for FGC's come from setting and adhering to clear parameters for the family group decision making ['bottom lines' re child and family needs and safety] and providing clear information and assessments on which the planning is based, from treating professionals, community agencies and sometimes statutory agencies. The role of FGC faciltator incorporates the development and synthesizing of the assessment information, as well as assessing community resources which can be brought to bear in the individual case. With good preparation, FGC's generally identify significant capacity within family and community systems to resource child and family needs, as well as enabling greater case management cohesion in often complex cases.
'Preparation Stage': The FGC process commences with a preparation stage in which the FGC facilitator makes contact with all family group, community and ‘village’ members, statutory and community agencies, explaining the principles, purpose and process of the FGC, their role, the parameters on their decision making established via the bottom lines underpinning the process, and the information re child and family needs and strengths.
On the day of the FGC the process starts with an 'Information Stage': The facilitator brings together relevant professionals and service providers who attend the FGC, along with the family and community members. The professionals and other service providers have a vital role as ‘information providers’ as opposed to decision makers in the FGC meeting. These individuals outline at the FGC the needs and strengths of the child and family and the resources their agency is offering, or could offer in the future. At the completion of provision of the information stage the process moves to a ‘Planning Time’ which can be conducted by the family in private.
Planning Stage: At the completion of the information stage, information providers [unless invited to participate with the family group in planning] depart the process. The family and village / community members convene in private to generate plans. Once these plans have been developed the family recalls the FGC facilitator to work through and explore further 'detail' around the plans.
From 2002, I became involved as joint chair of a Family Group Conferencing ‘Steering Group’, focused on the promotion of quality child protection and family practice in FGC and the development of a locally driven practitioner training manual. Along with statutory colleagues, I went on to deliver over the next three years, regular three-day training programs on FGC to community agency and statutory workers drawn from across the state. In 2003 I presented to the National Family Group Conferencing forum. With the introduction of FGM to Queensland legislation in 2005, I was asked to join a team of statutory colleagues in presenting training on FGM facilitation.
Also in late 2005, I initiated, in collaboration with Department of Child Safety colleagues and Peak Care, a Community of Practice focused on Family Group Conferencing. This Community of Practice was successful in the first year of its operation, bringing together private workers, community agency and Department of Child Safety personnel to review and develop practice learning’s across the sector. I have continued to read and research in the area of Family Group Meeting practice and returned to Scotland to consult with the Children First organization; a nation-wide body which provides family group conferencing services in 2008.
Since that time I have been regularly invited to supervise FGC facilitators and run training workshops on FGC including providing ‘Induction Training’ for Department of Child Safety FGM Convenors.
Child, Adolescent and Family Therapy
Child, Adolescent and Family Therapy has been the focus of my working life for over 30 years. I take an holistic and action-orientated approach to family work, based on systems theory [eg User Friendly Family Therapy] and humanistic frameworks. From the first session I seek to establish a professional work relationship with clients based on respect, partnership, listening and confidentiality. I ask people to induct me into their unique individual, family, community, cultural system including their strengths, vulnerabilities, resilience, lived experiences, problem solving and communication skills, conflict resolution skills, understandings and beliefs. Typically I will ask questions to learn how a family is structured; ‘Where is power, closeness and vulnerability located within your family structure?’ In order to build a thorough holistic understanding, I ask questions based on a broad spectrum of other assessment strategies including re resilience; mental status and biological, psychological and social influences; general emotional regulation skills; developmental factors; risk indicators for trauma; social skills; stress management skills; motivational factors; cognitive functioning.
I specialize in assisting families experiencing parent-child / adolescent conflict; grief; trauma; transitional issues; mental health; child development issues; parents who are separating or blending families.
Focused Psychological Strategies .
As an accredited mental health practitioner I offer comprehensive bio-psychosocial assessment processes incorporating information from the identified client, family, other treating professionals, treatment records. I explore presenting information; genograms; risk indicators including trauma; age related matters [child protection]; biological, psychological and social influences and impact on functioning; problem solving; communication skills; assessment schedules; mental state examinations. I specialize in assessing and working with people experiencing trauma, dissociative disorders, reactive attachment disorder, anxiety, family conflict, relationship problems, adjustment issues, depression, day-to-day life crises, addictions, conduct disorder, reactive attachment disorder, panic, suicidal thoughts, cross-cultural transitions, grief, personality disorders and psychosis.
I can provide a range of evidence-based, psycho-social strategies including Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Interpersonal Therapy, Problem Solving, Grief Therapy, Solution Focused approaches, Anger Management, Conflict Resolution, Relaxation and Stress Management, Psycho-Education, Motivational Interviewing, Mindfulness, PMR, Group Work, Family Therapy.
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