Home Link’s Systemic Practitioners visit families at home, to provide a form of therapy for them all together. It helps relationships and makes sure everyone’s voice is heard.
The work of a Systemic Practitioner is full of variety. I might be out and about in the community, in family homes or doing 1:1 sessions with children in schools. One of the things I like best about Systemic Practice is that you take time to get to know the families, and for them to get to know you, before you start to work together. Creating a shared understanding of their past, present and hopes for the future. Helping them to make sense of their family’s story, to see patterns that occur across generations and think about how this might be affecting them and their children now.
We think about roles that we play and who defines these roles, for example, what does it mean to be a mother, how should mothers act and according to whom. We also think about scripts (story lines) that we might consciously or unconsciously act out, for example, we might find ourselves saying things or behaving in a way that is like someone close to us - that moment when you realise you sound just like your mother! By thinking about these things people become more aware of their role and their scripts, which ones are useful and which ones they might want to change.
I might find myself in a house on the floor with the family drawing out their family tree or working on a timeline from when they were born, listing all of the significant events in their lives and helping them to think about how this impacts on their current situation. Then we think about what they might like their timeline to look like in the future. Sometimes I do this with adults and children separately and sometimes all together.
One of the things I like most about holding a systemic perspective is that the problem never resides in one person, it is always considered within the context of the system and therefore we don’t just focus on the problem. Being able to draw out and to focus on strengths rather than ‘the problem’ can help to motivate people to identify and to make the changes they would like. It can also help to put problems in perspective and stop people feeling so overwhelmed. Playing games with families and engaging in activities that they enjoy, helps us all to learn more about the family dynamics and relationships and at the same time improve them.
It’s not all fun and games though, and sometimes I find myself having very difficult conversations with families. Practising and engaging in systemic work is an emotional journey for the family and me so as part of the work I do, I have regular supervision with my peers, my manager and a systemic therapist. This makes sure that I pay attention to the feelings I am left with as part of the process and reminds me that we’re all part of the wider system.
It is a privilege to be able to offer therapy in the heart of the community, by doing so we are reducing the barriers to access support, and ensuring that families in need get the opportunities at a time that is right for them, in surroundings that are most comfortable and convenient for them, which promotes equality and sustainable change.