FOR LEGAL PRACTITIONERS
Information about Counselling Referrals
“For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”
― bell hooks
Please email us for referral or encourage clients to book in themselves.
Family Law Counselling: Information on
Counselling for Safety and Accountability
The Family Law Court revision in 2021 established the Lighthouse Project and Evatt List to facilitate early screening of risk in parenting matters.
In response to the safety of children, the Family Law Court may direct clients to 'anger management counselling', 'behaviour change', 'behavioural modification' or similar termed practices in response to domestic and family violence allegations. Adelaide Narrative Therapy counsellors take a broader, deeper, and more contextual view of domestic violence than the reductive implications of these terms, (see note 1 below on terminology).
Adelaide Narrative Therapy counsellors accept clients where violence has been alleged in family separation matters. Counselling invites clients to take full personal responsibility for their actions and the effects of their actions on the child/ren and other parent, and considers ways in which the client would like to improve all relationships in their lives.
Conversations foreground the safety and wellbeing of the child/ren and all parties in the matter including ex-partners, and invite clients to evaluate their own actions in light of their ethics and values. Counselling conversations also support clients' development of personal agency, identity and accountability. The Family Law Court may consider accounts of these sessions via court reports written by the counsellor, when determining the parenting plan for the child/ren.
Adelaide Narrative counsellors anticipate that clients engage in counselling for their own ethical reflection and accountability, rather than as a 'tick and flick' exercise. The courts referral to our service is intentional and in turn the reports provide an indication of client's accountability to the sessions.
Invitational Narrative Approach
We take an Invitational Accountability approach to counselling in inviting clients to engage openly and ethically with actions of responsibility and accountability to children, other separated parents, and those hurt by family violence.
This approach explores questions that respectfully:
Determine a client’s readiness to engage in conversations that address both harm and responsibility (see note 2 below defining harm);
Engage with the client about their lives and context of Family Separation;
Invite ethical clarification: ie "what kind of parent have I been trying to become? What kind of co-parent would be most supportive of the children?" etc.
We recognise that relationships evolve in complex and gendered ways and are shaped by social and economic contexts. Therefore, inquiry into a person’s complex lived experience is conversational and narrative in form and account for adversity and trauma; ultimately we focus on helping the client developing personal agency and responsibility in their lives and relationships.
Reports delivered to the court will contain the substance of counselling conversations that indicate the clients understanding of their own actions, any concerns regarding harm raised by court documents, and considers ways the client approaches conversations about responsibility and accountability.
Counsellors are experienced in specialised family violence counselling, sexual abuse counselling and family and relationship counselling. We meet with clients who have been affected by violence and abuse and those who are using violence and abuse.
Counsellors have formal qualifications in social work, counselling, narrative therapy and psychology. We consider our years of professional experience in working with clients individually and in groups, being mentored (apprenticed) to teachers in the field, and in holding each other (both women and men counsellors) to account in rigorous specialised family violence counselling teams, as very good practice training for counselling in the field of family law counselling and violence accountability and ethics.
Invitational Narrative methodology has been researched by ANROWS (Australia's National Research Office for Women's Safety) and is available for downloading: Engaging men who use violence: Invitational Narrative Approaches. For further professional interest please refer to Alan Jenkins book ‘Becoming Ethical: A parallel, political journey with men who have abused.’ Availability here.
Adelaide Narrative Therapy counsellors continue the work in the spirit of the NADA practice and Alan Jenkins and Rob Hall in accepting clients where domestic violence has been alleged in Family Court Separation matters. See Note 3 below.
Welcoming All Clients
We welcome all clients, not just court referrals, for relationship counselling and individual counselling for people who are wanting reflective conversations to review their lives, their relationships and to engage in a personal change project that helps develop integrity and personal responsibility.
Please email us for referral or encourage clients to book in themselves.
1. A Note on Terminology
Adelaide Narrative Therapy counsellors understand that domestic and family violence is significantly more complex than an individual psychological problem. The terminology commonly used of 'managing anger' or 'behaviour change' or 'emotional regulation' fails to account for:
the complex effects of different forms of gendered power and coercive control in relationships and on growing children.
the enormous economic, health and social costs of family violence on Australian society.
We are failing our children's futures if we do not recognise the need for services to work with the Justice system to create a "web of accountability".
We aim to support clients to recognise patterns of violence, guide clients towards realisations about the effect of their actions on their family, and address violence-supportive attitudes and use of coercive control.
Accountability in our context means developing the personal agency toward addressing the impact of violence and coercion upon those hurt by violence and coercion and by making personal reparation toward become an ethical person and making the lives of children safe and happy. This is beyond individual emotion or behaviour, it is contextual and addresses relationships, families, personal intention and self-agency, values, language, ethics, beliefs, culture and identity.
(For further policy reference see: Improving accountability: The role of perpetrator intervention systems)
2. Definition of "Harm" in this context: Harm is the real physical, emotional, or financial effects of coercive control and/or violence.
3. Problem with language: this method has been termed Invitational Narrative, we prefer Narrative-Invitational as this process draws on two distinct sets of practices: Narrative Therapy & Invitational Practices toward Ethics. These have seperate practices and theory that sometimes converge and diverge with each other and are grouped into a post-structural metatheoretical umbrella, but can be woven together with intent and generosity. The term Invitational Narrative will probably stick as it is replicated and defined in academic literature.
These practices have Practice based Evidence. Counselling practitioners, working with clients, reflect and counter-reflect about their clients, their practice and what is both helpful and ethical; Narrative Invitational Practices pay attention to where subtle acts of power are either made-visible or taken-for-granted in the form of 'expertise'. For as long as Counselling, Psychology and Therapy have existed as professions. therapeutic practice has always led theory which has developed the notion of "documented evidence." Particular collections of documented evidence is driven by academic research interests which has professionally separated from practitioners' work with clients. Invitational Narrative practices work to deconstruct power and its effects, and as such is a living project and process through every conversation.