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Dr. Susana Gavidia-Payne
Ms. Margaret Nicol
Why ‘Connecting with Families’
• Importance of acknowledging the needs of
families and carers;
• Opportunity to reflect on our values
• Little training available;
• Consensus about the meaning of ‘family-centred’
• Identify the values and the attitudes of
participants that may impact on their working
relationship with families.
• Generate strategies which address current
workplace issues in working with families.
Perceptions, attitudes, and values
The ways we see and think about the world around us.
Settled modes of thinking and behaviour that indicate your
opinion of an event, perception, or situation
“….the standards by which a person directs his actions and
defines, interprets, and judges all social phenomena..”
Attitudes that stand in the way of effective
parent-professional partnerships
• The parent as vulnerable client.
• The parent as patient.
• The parent as responsible for their son/daughter’s
• The parent as less observant, less perceptive and
less intelligent.
• The parent as adversary.
• The parent as “pushy,” “angry,“ “denying,”
“parent from hell,” “resistant,” or “anxious.”
Families’ attitudes towards disability
• Inability to listen to their concerns;
• Inability to give the right information (i.e., too
much or too little);
• Always telling families what to do;
• Lack of understanding of families’ competing
• Families’ fears of being seen as inadequate;
• Families’ fears of giving workers opportunities to
judge them as been good or bad;
• Families’ lack of confidence in their abilities.
• People view the world in different ways;
• A number of factors affect the way we view the world;
• Our view of the world may not be always right or the same
as the families we work with;
• We must recognise that our own perceptions, attitudes, and
beliefs will influence our interactions with families;
• Instead of viewing differences as problems, we can look at
them as opportunities to view things in a different way.
A family-centred approach
• Finding out how you can best help your families;
• Viewing the family as a social support system;
• Recognising the importance of the context of
family life in the development of individuals;
• Focussing on the strengths and resources of
families (e.g., coping strategies);
A family-centred approach (cont.)
• Believing that families can build on their strengths
and increase their feelings of competence;
• Involving family members as active participants in
any planning process;
• Enabling and empowering families (e.g.,
information, support groups) so they can function
effectively within their environmental contexts.
Communicating effectively with families
• Listening skills: Focussing and following that a
family member has to say;
• Reflecting families: The ability to accurately and
sensitively identify and reflect a family member’s
• Reflecting content: The ability to restate the
content of a family member’s message briefly and
concisely. Identify clearly, what the family wants
the workers to do;
Communicating effectively with families
• Effective questioning: Structuring
questions in a way that promotes
understanding of the family and decision
• Problem-solving steps.