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The multifamily peer group intervention


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To make an understanding of parental mental illness into a family process through parents' and children's groups by Social psychologist Bitta Söderblom.
The conference Developing Strength and Resilience in Children, 1-2 Nov. 2010 in Oslo.

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The multifamily peer group intervention

  1. 1. To make an understanding of parental mental illness into a family process through parents' and children's groups Bitta Söderblom Helsinki/Finland
  2. 2.  The mentally ill parent, possible partner, ex-spouse ◦ Mainly parents with affective illness  The child can’t participate without a parent  The child, age range 2-3 years ◦ Siblings welcomed, if within the age range & if evaluated meaningful & constructive  2 group leaders in both group ◦ Multi-professional & -organizational teamwork
  3. 3.  2 opening dialogues ◦ Parent + parent & child  10 group sessions, 90-120 min/week ◦ Parallel groups, 3 shared sessions ◦ Activity orientation, dialogical peer support & insight building  Own experiences understandable  1 follow-up discussion 4-6 weeks later ◦ Family meeting: questions to discuss
  4. 4.  To make use of protective processes in mutual dialogues ◦ Between family members (lessons learned BFI)  Break taboo & build understanding together, sense of family belonging, shared problem solving, ways to support wellbeing ◦ Within support groups  Universalism & processes of normalizing  Mutuality: New understanding & perspectives  A possibility to learn new problem solving skills
  5. 5. 2. To learn to know each others 3. The parental mental illness in my world & words 4. My feelings: learn to know my feelings 5. My feelings & coping with them 6.To be assertive & express needs 2.To learn to know each others 3.My way of understanding my illness 4.How children understand my illness 5. How can I support my child? 6. Preparing for the next session ” 1.What brings us together? 7. ”Time for questions” & the child's supporting adults 8. To ask for help when needed 9. Me, my self and my possibilities 8.Good enough parenting 9.Evaluation of the worth of the intervention 10. Time to celebrate
  6. 6.  Co-operation between the groups ◦ Shared sessions, short visits, messages in-between the groups, similar tasks  The child is kept ”present” in the parental group ◦ Parents informed of child program: what, how & why  Child’s experiences & needs visible, support dialogues  Questions about the illness/family situation are ”handed over” to the parents group ◦ The parental trust in own capability is a necessity to ensure the continuing process
  7. 7. Spring 2010
  8. 8.  Why are you ill? Why do you have the illness?  Is it our fault that you feel bad?  Can one die of depression?  What do you do in your group?  Do you love us, us children?
  9. 9.  From where do the illness come? Why are you ill?  Can one recover from it? How do you get better?  Do I get ill?  Is the illness our fault?  Why are you so angry all the time?  Why do you shout for nothing?  Why don´t you answer when I talk to you?  Why do the illness make you so tired?  How can I help you  Who will help us when the after the group?
  10. 10.  A positive intervention ◦ Seem to be attractive, drop outs rare!  The parallel process: Brings understanding of parental mental illness into a family process ◦ Lay ground for changes in everyday life  10 sessions do not make any miracle: Good enough for many families to get started ◦ Early identification of families needing support  The multi-professional & -organizational teamwork ◦ Valuable for the families, helpful for the clinicians
  11. 11.  A possibility to build understanding ◦ ”... because it’s good to learn to understand why the parent is so tired and why mothers may behave in a strange way...”  To get relief ◦ ”... because it was a good group and it helped... ...its now much easier to be & live right now”  Help to talk ◦ ”It helped…you know how to talk with your mother about the illness... It may be difficult also for the mother.” ◦ ”... because you get help. And when you have talked to someone it will be easier to talk to others later on”  Gains for the parent ◦ ”...because perhaps the mother will get better!”
  12. 12.