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• (2) The therapist then turns to the family, initiating a conversation about (1), to draw out and further understand new meanings that have emerged. The therapist turns back to the consultant at least once for a refl ective conversation. • (3) The consultant writes a short letter summarising emergent understandings, the refl ections and ensuing conversations with the family. The letter is addressed to both the family and the therapist. The workshop included an example of

an in-room refl ective-consultation session. From live interviews with the consultant involved (one of the presenters), DVD clips (of the session and of feedback from the clinician) and using audience refl ecting- teams, the following points emerged. The process created a safe space in

the session in which the family seemed energised and able to think. It led to talking about the “space between” - the relationship between therapist and family. This in turn led to the emergence of a diff erent, non-blame laden understanding of relationships between family members in relation to the problem. Rather than

feeling caught up in painful experiences of coping alone, the problem felt shared; for both the therapist and the family. The parents became more active and empowered to help their child, instead of being onlookers. For the therapist, the in-room refl ective

consultation enabled immediate feedback, was interactive, helped build trust, enabled clarity and openness. Admitting her struggle in front of the family was signifi cant, making the work more collaborative. She was able to “voice things we have not got around to saying”, and it “charged the batteries”. A non-pathologising, safe-enough

context for the consultation had been created, within the organisation and in pre-session communications. The refl ecting team speculated that the process allowed the therapist both to give more of herself within the therapeutic system and take an observer position in relation to the family and the work. Issues of power were raised. How

might clinicians of diff erent seniority and experience view the model, and how does

this connect with families’ perceptions? Could the consultant be positioned as the more senior clinician? People shared experiences of “seeing people sweat” when using a refl ecting-team model for supervision. Thoughts were off ered about privileging the transparency lens in negotiating the process. I thought about why transparency is

important for me; I think a therapeutic process can be more effective if families feel more involved in it. The sharing of responsibility may be a factor that enables clinicians to take more risks. I could be more effective at spreading systemic ideas and helping professionals who feel stuck in my setting by owning my systemic ideas overtly and attending to context more carefully. Just doing what we do isn’t always enough; sometimes the what, how and why needs to be made explicit. It was suggested and agreed that a letter

was sent to the family, to let them know about the diff erence they have made to us.

Debbie Holmes

Charlie Stanley, Sarah Favier and Simon Jubb 42

Context February 2012

AFT National Conference workshop reports

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