Workshops

There are a wide selection of workshops available to choose from.  Please feel free to browse workshop titles, presenters and abstracts.  You will be required to pre-book workshops as part of the registration process.

Workshops are split into four sessions...

  • Session 1 - Thursday 29 September | 14:15 to 15:30

  • Session 2 - Thursday 29 September | 16:00 to 17:15

  • Session 3 - Friday 30 September | 12:00 to 13:00

  • Session 4 - Friday 30 September | 14:15 to 15:15

Important Note for Virtual Attendees - Virtual tickets include all keynote and plenary sessions but only one workshop from each workshop session.  This is due to logistical reasons.  Please look out for the following symbols next to each session on the programme...

In-PersonVirtual - This session is included with both the 'In-Person' tickets and the 'Virtual' ticket.

In-Person Only - This session is only available to in-person attendees.

Thursday 29 September
Session 1 - 14:15 to 15:30

In-Person Virtual

Workshop 1:  Are you being systemic enough?

Dr Phil Arthington, Lecturer in Family Therapy, University of Leeds

Dr Kate Hall, Lecturer in Family Therapy, University of Leeds

The question ‘Am I being systemic enough?’ can arise for many of us in our development as systemic practitioners and family therapists.  As trainers in family therapy and systemic practice, we have often seen students struggle with this question as a key feature of their developing relationship with our field.  Is it enough to be using systemic techniques?  Do you need to have absorbed a systemic philosophical viewpoint?  Is the shift from working with individuals to families sufficient?  

We believe that this issue can arise at various stages of the family therapist life cycle, particularly for trainees and qualified family therapists with training in other modalities, working in specialist settings or in non-therapy roles.  Many of us occupy rather isolated positions in organisations which are not necessarily conducive to a flourishing of one’s systemic-ness.  In any event, who decides what counts as ‘systemic enough’ anyway?

This workshop will draw on our qualitative research with systemic practice students on the topic ‘Am I being systemic enough?’.  The research findings will be used as the basis for a group discussion on this central question.  Attendees will be invited to explore their own relationship to the topic of being systemic enough and its influence on their practice; and to consider how we might better support future generations entering the world of systemic practice.

Thursday 29 September
Session 1 - 14:15 to 15:30

In-Person only

Workshop 2:  Keynote Presenter Workshop - Adventures in Time, gender and therapy: The Resource

Amanda Middleton

More Adventures in Time and Gender is a therapeutic resource to support expansive conversations about being trans and exploring gender. It aims to use trans history to connect people to broader understandings and ways of being trans, to examine the intersections of gender and sexuality, to build resilience and allow people to be the best versions of themselves.  

This project follows on from an initial collaboration between researchers from the University of Exeter's Wellcome Trust-funded Rethinking Sexology team, writer Jason Barker, Gendered Intelligence and young trans and gender diverse people. They investigated Western trans history and the history of Western European sexology, producing a podcast and, with They Them Studio, a website. 

The resource consists of 12 Adventures which are represented on a set of cards and housed in an online space. Each Adventure is a themed collection of conversation prompts, exercises, images, historical material and oral histories which provoke conversation and exploration. Each Adventure builds more possibilities for reflexivity about gender and connection to wider trans communities and ancestors.

Join us to explore the resource, expand your narratives of gender diversity and see how it might support you in your practice. 
 

Thursday 29 September
Session 1 - 14:15 to 15:30

In-Person Only

Workshop 3:  Between old wisdoms and new truths

Shaziyah Afzal, Family Therapist

Dawn Walker, Family & Systemic Psychotherapist

Our workshop will include the words of families who have chosen to share their experiences of our work together in Manchester. Words from families who have talked with us about their feelings on examining long held wisdoms, whether spiritual, cultural or political. Families who have told us that the situations in which they have found themselves have led to questions about long and deeply held beliefs. This questioning has resonated with both of us, and has led to our own questions about our own beliefs and wisdoms. The spaces within and around the family clinic and whole family groups have given rise to thoughts and conversations about how we know what we know and when and how we evaluate this.

The theme of 'old wisdoms and new truths' seems to define much of our work in Manchester in the last three years.  Our workshop will set some context for our work in Manchester, introducing ourselves and our families. We will present some ideas about old wisdoms; in our own thinking and acting, in teachings and written words, and in signifiers. We will bring the words of families into thoughts about practices of new ideas and a process of finding new truths. This will include exploration of systemic practice wisdoms in our work. How we decide whether wisdoms are obsolete and whether new ideas are have become truths  will have space in our workshop. We will share some of our supervision thinking about power and privilege and some ways of working with this that we have found helpful and that families have fed back to us.

Thursday 29 September
Session 1 - 14:15 to 15:30

In-Person Only

Workshop 4:  The LUUUTT Model in relation to place: an exploration

Hazel Kent, Systemic Practitioner/CAMHS Practitioner, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (RDASH)

Anne Oakes, Family Therapist, Rotherham Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (RDASH)

Our places of practice have multiple stories and multiple storytellers. Working in the context of Rotherham, we are drawn to the LUUUTT model as a way of exploring the living, breathing stories of the place and its people. We have been wondering about the lived, unknown, untold, unheard and told stories of our place of work; about how these stories influence us and our practice.  Working systemically in Rotherham we hold in the back of our minds - sometimes the front - stories of Child Sexual Exploitation, stories which are lived through generations, told in the media, but often untold or unknown within families and other contexts. We have wondered about the the unknown stories, the communities who are least likely to come into contact with our service, and how we hear them.  

We invite you in this workshop to join us in an exploration of your own place of practice using the LUUUTT model as a framework. We will introduce this as an idea using the example of Rotherham and invite you in small groups to think about your own places of practice.   We may ask questions about the trauma history the place where you practice holds, what its Social GGRRAAACCEEESSS might be. What might the old wisdoms be of your place of practice, what new truths would it seek to find?   This workshop will be a place of invitation and exploration – we hope to play with ideas and explore together the usefulness of applying this model to place, rather than to present a finished and polished notion.  Following this activity we will have some time for reflection and thinking about how we might take this idea back into our workplaces, and how it might influence our practice.

Thursday 29 September
Session 1 - 14:15 to 15:30

In-Person Only

Workshop 5:  Voices of children in care: extending hope, exploring possibilities

Wendy Lobatto, Clinical Service Manager & Family Therapist, Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust

Nicola Herring, Systemic Family Therapist, Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Colin Waterman, Consultant Systemic Family Psychotherapist, Manchester University Hospital Foundation NHS Trust

Sabine Vermeire, Systemic psychotherapy and family counseling trainer, supervisor and systemic and narrative family therapist, Interactie-academie

Following the recent publication of the August 2020 Special Issue of the Journal of Family Therapy, we want to offer colleagues in the field the opportunity to bring their minds and hearts to the question of what children and young people need when they can no longer be looked after in their families. The Department for Education has recently reported on a series of pilots which were set up around the country in the wake of the 2016 Report by the Education Select Committee on the mental health needs of looked after children. As systemic practitioners, we believe we have a great deal to bring to this question.

We intend to begin by presenting some information about the lives of our looked after children in the UK and abroad, and what best practice currently looks like in this field. We then move to hearing our co-presenter Sabine’s conversation with Xander, a young man with whom she worked for a number of years during his time in care, as they discuss and reflect on this journey together.  We hope that this lovely video will help colleagues, in small groups, to consider the lives and experiences of other looked after children and young people, and to think together about what they might need. We intend to give each small group a brief biography of a child or young person and ask them to use their imagination, their sensitivity and their wisdom to imagine themselves into that child’s position and to understand what might help them feel better. We hope then to share these thoughts into the larger group, and to receive reflections from participants about Xander’s story and to put these into a form where they can be shared with him.

Thursday 29 September
Session 2 - 16:00 to 17:15

In-Person Virtual

Workshop 6:  Keynote Presenter Workshop (follow-on from keynote presentation)

Hendrix Hammond

Keynote Information coming soon...

Thursday 29 September
Session 2 - 16:00 to 17:15

In-Person Only

Workshop 7:  Systemic Artivism – Creative Tussles of Social Justice

Anokh Goodman, Systemic Geek, Bradford District Care Foundation NHS Trust

Nafeesa Nizami, Systemic Geek, Bradford District Care Foundation NHS Trust

Helen Turner, Systemic Geek, Bradford District Care Foundation NHS Trust

Our systemic field have always utilised different ideas, we hope to spotlight ideas of; collectivism, abolitionism, decolonisation and artivism.  Positioning creative methods, issues of social justice and artistic expression at an approach level. Reconnecting systemic practice to its post-modern roots of art, resistance and bringing issues of social justice into the focal point. The intention of this workshop will be to connect practitioners to ideas around decolonisation and imperatives in attending to issues of social injustice affecting communities we exist within. We will explore how we do/don’t/can bring bridge the world of art, post-modernism, and activism to develop our ethical stance, in relationship with the effects of social injustice on multiple levels.


We hope to connect the ripples from our stories lived, to stories told linking the micro therapeutic relationships to the macro socio-political relationships, and the occupied space between.  We will use different methods to engage and communicate together as a collective, using music, art and encouraging a movement toward embodied interactions and ways of connection. We hope using these different methods, will reconnect us to different ways of being together and will open up new possibilities, and ways we can be with others we work alongside.

Thursday 29 September
Session 2 - 16:00 to 17:15

In-Person Only

Workshop 8:  The perils of an ODD diagnosis

Pete Brown, Family Therapist / Parenting Lead, Oxleas NHS Trust

Workshop aims: A look at the ODD (Oppositional Defiance Disorder) diagnosis and its impact on young people in terms of stigma and labelling. How do families make sense of these diagnoses and how might they help or hinder persons involved?   I notice in my work in CAMHS that the medical model of diagnoses is 'alive and kicking'. Some diagnoses seem more benign than others (such as PTSD) . However, I have been working over the last year, with community paediatricians, to think about how subtle changes may be introduced to make the less-benign diagnosis of ODD (often co-diagnosed  with ADHD and/or ASD) less stigmatising. This includes ideas from narrative therapy.

Thursday 29 September
Session 2 - 16:00 to 17:15

In-Person Only

Workshop 9:  Urgent Family Intervention in First Episode Psychosis: Stories of 'Reconnection'?

Kevin Simmons, Family and Systemic Psychotherapist, Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust

Dr Diane Morrison, Clinical Psychologist / Systemic Practitioner, Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust

We work in community mental health, in an Early Intervention Service, with people who could be described as experiencing a first episode of psychosis.  While ‘psychosis’ can be understood as a reaction to multiple stresses in a person’s life, people can experience this in different ways, such as voice-hearing, paranoid and persecutory thoughts and / or beliefs, and unusual perceptual experiences.  People, and their family members, can feel fragmented and disconnected.  A foundation of our work with families where ‘psychosis’ is present has been to co-create a space where there can be clarity of communication, allowing for different stories about psychosis and mental health to be explored.  We have used ourselves as co-therapists in a physical and active way in the ‘room’ with families, to aid connection and coherence.
Within our service, we have tried to respond to both the needs of families and the needs of our colleagues working with families. Thus we introduced ‘urgent family intervention’, influenced by the ideas from Open Dialogue. We see families in crisis as soon as we can. We typically offer four sessions and see people within two weeks of referral for ‘urgent family intervention’. There are many different ideas about psychosis from professionals and service users and it is important there is place for these to be heard. How we offer family intervention and how we do it is influenced by both external drivers and realities and by our histories, stories, and our own preferences for working systemically.

Thursday 29 September
Session 2 - 16:00 to 17:15

In-Person Only

Workshop 10:  ‘Everyday’ Acts of Resistance in the NHS: resisting practice that contradicts your values

Becky Midlane, Systemic Psychotherapist

How do we as family therapists resist the financial hardships and powerful oppressive professional and societal discourses of our times so that we can work in line with the beliefs and the ethics that brought us to systemic therapy in the first place? What are the small, everyday things that as practitioners we do to work in line with our ethical values, even in contexts where the system might not?  

In this presentation, qualitative research will be presented on the experience of systemic therapists doing ‘everyday’ acts of resistance against practice in the NHS that goes against their values.   This research looked at what systemic therapists experience when negotiating the dilemma of simultaneously being a part of the system and challenging it. It explored the values, principles, and resources that motivate family therapists to resist, and the affordances and constraints they experience in doing resistance in their day-to-day work. 

 

Themes explored include the influence of the self of the therapist on their motivation to resist, and the necessity of resisting in order to survive in the job and ensure families’ marginalised voices are heard in the wider system. The tension in balancing competing needs in the system and the energy that resisting both gives and takes are described, as well as how others in the system enable or disable the therapists’ ability to resist. Questions are raised as to whether resisting is a critical role of the family therapist, as well as crucial for practitioners in order to work in a way coherent with their sense of self.  Participants will be invited to discuss their own relationship with resistance, to consider their positioning within the organisations they work in, and how they and their colleagues work in line with their values within their work setting.

Friday 30 September
Session 3 - 12:00 to 13:00

In-Person Virtual

Workshop 11:  Social, personal and professional GgRRAAAAACCEEEESSS...SSS across 3 generations of trainers:  What are the differences that make a difference that matter?

John Burnham, Consultant Family and Systemic Psychotherapist, Academic Lead and Clinical Supervisor, Birmingham Systemic Training Programme, Birmingham Women and Childrens Hospital

Parveen Kaur, Head of Systemic Training, Clinical supervisor and tutor, Birmingham Systemic Training Programme, Birmingham Women and Childrens Hospital

Abiola Jordan, Intermediate Course Tutor, Birmingham Systemic Training Programme, Birmingham Women and Childrens Hospital

John, Parveen and Abiola emerged from different cultural belongings, developed personal ethnicities and represent three generations of trainers within the Birmingham Systemic Training Programme over a period of 45 years.  They share a systemic orientation to their practice as therapists and trainers and a commitment to Black Lives Matter in their thinking and practice.  Workshop participants are invited to explore these differences and similarities between presenters as part of a will feature as part of the workshop and 

 

We will explore some of the 'old wisdoms', including 


•    Social GgRRAAAAACCEEESSS......S, 
•    Content and Process; 
•    Multiple levels of context and 
•    Rigour and Imagination

 

which initiated and sustain the programme as well as the 'new truths' that are emerging within the systemic field, such as:


•    inter-sectionality
•    the 'actually' not knowing position
•    de-colonisation 
•    manualisation


and how these are refreshing the training programme in design and delivery.    These will be seen as complementary practices that develop one another in a reflexive relationship.

 

While the presenters share a systemic orientation to their practice as therapists and trainers, by virtue of their differences they will offer a personalised take on the systemic concepts and practices that they all use.  The workshop will include presentation, video, small group exercises and spontaneous role plays!

Friday 30 September
Session 3 - 12:00 to 13:00

In-Person Only

Workshop 12:  Three 20 minute presentations...

Presentation 1:  Narrative Therapy & Continuing Bond Enquiry: a bridge between the past and the future

Presentation 2:  Old Wisdom and New Truths: Bateson, Ecology and the Posthumanities

Presentation 3:  Pregnancy, Miscarriage, PND and child loss from a cultural and faith perspective

Ana Draper, Consultant Systemic and Family therapist, Tavistock and Portman NHS (Presentation 1)

Elisa Marcellino, Clinical, Counselling and Health Psychologist, NHS (Presentation 1)

Hugh Palmer, Independent Systemic Practitioner (Presentation 2)

Ansa eisa Ahmed, CEO & Founder, Hope Bereavement Support CIC (Presentation 3)

Presentation 1

This presentation will explore the use of the model ‘Continuing Bonds’ (CB) described by Klass and Chow (2011) in two case studies as a form of enquiry. The authors are drawing upon social constructionist and narrative ideas to provide an enquiry approach that enables clinicians to understand and respond to the numerous losses of one’s culture and relationships as a result of migratory grief. This is an emerging enquiry model based on the authors’ work with unaccompanied minors and adopted children.

Presentation 2

In this presentation, I will argue that, although the systemic therapy community adopted some of Gregory Bateson’s ideas, we neglected his ecological concerns, and his thinking about epistemology and ontology might have shaped our practice even more than the comparatively few concepts we took. With rising concerns about the impact of humans upon the environment in the era in which we live, described as the Anthropocene, along with the posthuman turn, perhaps now is the time for us to look both backwards and forwards to deepen our understanding of Bateson’s message; to acknowledge the continuing importance of his thinking and influence upon the posthumanities.

Presentation 3

Child loss and follow on pregnancy from a loss and its impacts to consider therapeutically when working with clients from a cultural and faith perspective

Friday 30 September
Session 3 - 12:00 to 13:00

In-Person Only

Workshop 13:  A Dynamic Exercise around Gender Identity

Dr Jacqueline Nicholson, Clinical Psychologist and Family and Systemic Psychotherapist, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust

Gender Identity is an incredibly important aspect of our personal and professional lives. As a topic, it can lead to difference of opinion and a closing down of open dialogue. Systemic ideas and thinking have a great deal to offer this area and the many related dilemmas that can present. This workshop aims to draw on the perspectives of attendees to bring together a number of elements of gender identity. The workshop will include attendees considering biology and appearance, sense of self, gender expression, sexuality, social and cultural ideas and language.

Friday 30 September
Session 3 - 12:00 to 13:00

In-Person Only

Workshop 14:  Virginia Satir Old Wisdom New Action

 Martin Gill, Psychotherapist/Psychodramatist/Dramatherapist, UKPC HCPC 

An experiential workshop of action methods used by Virginia Satir with Family therapy trainees.  Satir's unique approach to training practice involved the use of metaphors and role interactions to elicit systemic understanding and insight. In this workshop we will recreate at a specific model created by Satir called the 'Parts Party'. There will be an opportunity for participants to discuss how Satir's pioneering work is still relevant to today's systemic training and practice.

Friday 30 September
Session 3 - 12:00 to 13:00

In-Person Only

Workshop 15:  "What's in a name?"

Marie McGovern, Family Therapist and trainer, University of Leeds

Merinda Levi, Family Therapist, NHS

Rifa Rahman, Family Therapist, NHS

David Swinhoe, Family Therapist, NHS

Anokh Goodman, Family Therapist, NHS

Names are rarely a focus in therapy yet can communicate aspects of identity, both personal and family, gender, class, race, nationality, religion and more. The name can form a shibboleth that excludes the individual or can bestow membership and privilege.  Names are most usually given by parents to their children and may hold the hopes for the next generation or a reverence for the past. The opening presentation will illustrate how the political and personal intersections of naming become a route to appreciation of aspects of identity and recognition with potential to link to personal and family stories through the generations including class histories, immigration, language and belonging. The giving and taking of names will be explored to include cultural choices and options on marriage, gender transition, emigration, stage names, alias' titles and nicknames. Through the presentation, group based discussion and exercises the potential to use names as a route for exploration of personal, family and community identity will be offered with options for a range of applications in therapeutic and organisational work with people.

Friday 30 September
Session 4 - 14:15 to 15:15

In-Person Virtual

Workshop 16:  An international collaboration: Implementing and evaluating an attachment informed philosophy and practice to adolescent inpatient units with the ABFT and University of Exeter team

Prof Hannah Sherbersky, Family Therapist, Deputy Director of CEDAR - Post Graduate Taught Programmes and Co-Director of the Systemic Portfolio, University of Exeter

Dr Guy Diamond, Professor, Psychologist, Family Therapist and Co-developer of ABFT, Drexel University, USA

Dr Suzanne Levy, Clinical Psychologist, Co-developer of ABFT and Director of the ABFT Training Programme, Drexel University, USA

Dr Ilse Devacht, Clinical Psychologist, Family Therapist and Lead ABC4Teams, Asster Hospital, Belgium

Dr Carl Bescoby, Research Fellow and Clinical Psychologist, University of Exeter

The ABFT and University of Exeter team invite you to learn about an innovative project to bring systemic thinking and family therapy intervention to three NHS adolescent inpatient units in the South West, UK. In 2020, Health Education England funded Professor Hannah Sherbersky from Exeter University, to lead the project in collaboration with the ABFT training team from the USA and Belgium. The project aims to improve staff cohesion and retention, increase patient satisfaction and outcomes, and strengthen parental engagement in the assessment, treatment and discharge process.  The milieu training is led by Ilse Devacht of Asster Hospital in Belgium. The whole team; nurses, therapists, doctors, HCAs learn an attachment informed milieu philosophy and practice together. Dr. Diamond and Dr Levy are training the family therapist at each unit to implement Attachment based family therapy with patients and their parents. 


ABFT is a manualised, empirically supported family therapy model specifically designed to target family and individual processes associated with adolescent suicide and depression.  In this way, the therapist approach is integrated with the milieu approach.  All three units had participated in the Children and Young People’s IAPT Inpatient 10-day Training, led by Professor Sherbersky at Exeter. Both the IAPT and the ABCT4Teams program draw on attachment theory as a unified framework to support family centered care within inpatient settings. 


The implementation team will talk about the intricacies and complexities of delivering training within inpatient settings, working with diverse professional staff and teams, working across differing time and culture zones and the development of a novel mixed method research proposal. The team will also reflect on the additional complexities of managing a project focused on attachment at a time of intense sociopolitical challenge for the NHS workforce, as the impact of the pandemic continues.

Friday 30 September
Session 4 - 14:15 to 15:15

In-Person Only

Workshop 17:  Research takes you (took me) to useful, strange and exciting places: a 50yr journey

Prof Peter Stratton, 'Retired', LFTRC University of Leeds, and AFT

Research is a developing culture with a core value of exploring old wisdoms and checking them out in real world settings to test, refine, and so build new truths. It is a reciprocal process with research culture being enhanced through its experiences of usable applications.
 

This workshop offers an illustration of these processes through varied experiences of one researcher over more than half a century. The value of research comes from being aimed at making a difference. Throughout, the participants will be invited to consider how they might have researched each issue including how their research question would be oriented towards findings that would make a difference.
 

The research ranges from an abandoned study of why swaddling babies is effective, meeting cultural values of quiescent babies, while harming early development. Then through early work on child abuse leading to creating the Leeds Family Therapy and Research Centre.   One project of the LFTRC research team picked up on the roles of contingency awareness in attachment, and developed systems for coding causal expectations (attributions) in therapy. This manualised research protocol has been used to help understand processes within families and was also the basis for setting up The Psychology Business Ltd. which conducted 20 major research projects including projects internationally from Brazil to China. Another research project created the LFTRC Systemic Family Therapy Manual which has been widely used for training and by independent therapists and adapted using translated versions from Chile to Italy.  A final research example is the development of the SCORE which was created for research but is now primarily used as a clinical tool interactively with the family. A substantial effort has been made to make culturally appropriate translations available for use in 24 countries with a further nine for ethnic minorities in the UK.

Friday 30 September
Session 4 - 14:15 to 15:15

In-Person Only

Workshop 18:  Keynote Presenter Workshop - Visual and Representational Practice with Intercultural Couples

Dr Reenee Singh, Director, The London Intercultural Couples Centre, the Child and Family Practice

Visual and representational methods can be used to great advantage with intercultural couples, especially where one partner's first language is not English. This workshop will give demonstrate and give participants the opportunity to practice a range of visual and representational methods to work with intercultural couples. The four methods presented will be Cultural genograms, culturegrams, emotion maps and interviewing the internalised other. The workshop will include recorded examples from my own practice, accompanied by clinical vignettes.

Friday 30 September
Session 4 - 14:15 to 15:15

In-Person Only

Workshop 19:  Using All Your Colours

Elaine Holliday, Systemic and Family Psychotherapist and Art Therapist, Supervisor and Trainer, Independent Practice

Chiara Santin, Systemic and Family Psychotherapist, Supervisor and Trainer, Director of Rainbow Family Therapy Services Ltd

This presentation sets out to describe and share the model for; ’Using All Your Colours’. This is an on-line 10 session group/course for professionals working in health and social care settings which Elaine and Chiara developed and led during 2021. In presenting this work our hope is for colleagues to see the potential of this project and to add to its development. We also want to show how the ideas for this project were ignited and supported by the AFT and Aspens community.

The aim of the course specifically explored creativity within systemic practice and the contribution which visual communication and expression can bring to our practice. This included discussing the ways in which we restore ourselves and learn from each other and how we can act from a position of hope.  As well as describing the model, we want to share with colleagues the paintings, transgenerational stories, ideas and wisdoms which emerged. The presentation will include a digital show of the paintings as they move from one colour to the next. The slide show also captures the group process.

We hope to show how the project became a celebration of systemic creativity, which provided a way of staying connected in spite of a sense of isolation. The group provided an opportunity for us to be creative in our thinking and to express ourselves through colour. It strengthened our commitment to self-care and helped us to explore the challenges of clinical work and the blurred boundaries between our personal and professional lives during the pandemic. 

The  Using All Your Colours project was supported with funding from The David Campbell Fund for Creative Initiatives in Training, Research, Supervision and Practice in Family Therapy and Systemic Practice in the UK.

Friday 30 September
Session 4 - 14:15 to 15:15

In-Person Only

Workshop 20:  Systemic means to working with conflict: Ideas from the Parenting Apart Programme

Dr Paul Walton, Systemic Psychotherapist, Clinical Psychologist, Kaleidoscope Psychology and Psychotherapy

Kam Kaur, Senior Social Worker, Parenting Apart Consultant, The Parenting Apart Programme

There is a problem with the family court system for separating/divorcing parents (Family Solutions Group, 2020). Not only is this system oversubscribed, with the impact on the UK taxpayer reaching around £51billion per year (Relationships Foundation, 2018), but at a more fundamental level, it is failing to help significant numbers of separating parents separate in a collaborative and amenable way. It is a system, which through its organisation and held narratives, fosters (further) discord and conflict between separating parents (Fouzder, 2020).

Whilst this process is both unpleasant and costly for parents, it is children who ultimately pay the price when parents are adversaries rather than allies (Mooney et al, 2009). Parents who remain in active conflict create a double-bind for their children; as they are fed (implicitly and explicitly) competing ‘truths’ about the other parent. Children become stuck in the middle of this conflict and subject to psychological/emotional turmoil.  There are cases of abuse and oppression where a courtroom process is necessary and appropriate. However, for many parents this approach does little to help them act co-parents and fails to equip them with the skills to work together in the best interests of their child and navigate the many years of co-parenting and contact they have left.

 

Our presentation will seek to engage the audience on this topic of working with parental conflict, we will do so from a curious position and seek to create a self-reflexive enquiry into people’s embodied relationship with working with and in the presence of conflict. We will draw upon our experiences from within the Parenting Apart Programme and link this with the Systemic theory which empowers us to work creatively and usefully with the conflict between two people in a manner that creates enough space for a new dialogue to develop.