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Using the ‘tree of life’ as a f amework for brief systemic family assessments within CAMHS

Presenter: Gill Goodwillie T e aſt er-lunch slot is always a diffi cult

one to do, but Gill Goodwillie held our at ention with her absorbing presentation of a highly creative use of the ‘tree of life’ as an assessment tool. As a family therapy trainee in my fi nal

year and working in CAMHS myself, I have found papers and presentations on this subject inspiring. It was refreshing to hear Gill’s experience of enlivening the rather restrictive choice and partnership approach through the use of this refl ective, collaborative, and visual tool. Individuals are encouraged to draw

their life on paper in the form of a tree. Gill described the diff erent parts of the tree and their connection to life experience as follows: Roots = family history, a favourite song, place or meaningful person

Ground = the present situation; Trunk = skills/abilities; Branches = the future-wishes, hopes and dreams; Leaves = signifi cant people; Fruits = the giſt s we have been given; Storms/weather = life stressors or hurdles. In Gill’s case example, we heard how

family members helped each other identify strengths when they were stuck; how they were able to express feelings that had been diffi cult to verbalise; how hidden, painful stories could be acknowledged, and all in the context of a brief assessment for further family work. What became apparent was how much more than assessment was achieved – it was therapy conducted in a sensitive but fun way!

Ruth Pugh, early intervention practitioner, CAMHS

Creative ways of building a collaborative practice within a trauma set ing

Presenters: Kathleen Van de Vijver, Liz

Forbat and Roy Farquharson The practice setting for this workshop

was the Glasgow base of Freedom From Torture (the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture). Kathleen is the family therapist there; Liz and Roy had been trainees there. In a moving introduction, the presenters

spoke of three families they had worked with and of things they had learned from these families, such as a father’s ability to hold on to core human-values despite appalling life-experiences, and the deeper

Context February 2012

understanding of socio-political issues around asylum seeking that came from working with these families. I suppose the context – working with

displaced people from many diff erent countries who have experienced torture – is thankfully far from an ordinary circumstance. For this reason, it was important to hear and think about the context in some detail: how the medical foundation set up centres outside of London after asylum seekers were dispersed to diff erent parts of the country in 2000; how the Scottish base received 130 new referrals for people from 32 countries

of origin in 2010 and had 211 clients in treatment that year; how, on average, 50% of appointments were conducted with an interpreter, the most common languages being French & Lingala, Farsi, Bajouni, Arabic, Turkish and Urdu. Working with interpreters is central in

the work. We did a brainstorming exercise around the many diff erent ways we can say ordinary words and phrases, never mind more complex ideas such as “We work as a team” or “I am worried about my daughter. I have not seen her for two years”. It was an eff ective way to help us appreciate the complexity of trying to


Workshop reports

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