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How to work with families who do not see the problem? - webinar on ChildHub


On July 9th, Terre des Hommes hosted the webinar, 'Working with Uncooperative Families', which presented reasons, implications and strategies for dealing with families who do not recognise that there is a problem, and resist support. The webinar was presented by Stephanie Delaney, an expert with 20+ years of experience in child protection, development rights and welfare.

It is imperative to recognize the forms of uncooperation, and to be aware of its real-life implications, if it is not addressed. Stephanie suggested 12 reasons why families can be uncooperative, including not wanting their privacy invaded, and the dislike or fear of authoritative figures. Stephanie also provided conceptualisations of uncooperativeness: non-engagement, disguised compliance, confrontational, and hostility and violence. Uncooperation impacts the child and the family, by increasing family tension, and leaving the child in a place of increased risk. However, less obvious is the impact it has on social workers, which Stephanie brought to light. This can include the social worker feeling undermined, useless, mirroring the families’ behaviour, and in extreme cases, experiencing violence.

Stephanie shared various, effective strategies including understanding the underlying reason why the families are being uncooperrative. Another is providing information and being clear about roles and responsibilities, form each party. Often, families do not understand the role of the social worker, so clarifying this could help. One suggested strategy is being open and transparent, challenging the family, while remaining neutral. An example of this is for the social worker to tell the family that they understand that the family might not want the social worker there, so ask them what can be done to ensure they do not have to return. This is a useful technique to shift responsibility to the family, in a way that does not place blame.

There is also an accessible serious online game, ’Rosie 1’ (Virtually Safe), where the user, in the role of a social worker experiences an ’uncooperative’ family visit. Download the game here. You can continue the discussion about the issue in our forum. See the link below to download the powerpoint slides from the webinar. Tdh Moldova also has developed training moduls for social assistants, which covers this topic as well.

More on the webinar