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Helping families help themselves

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Les Watt wants you not to worry – all families are crazy. But that doesn’t mean that some don’t need help.

Les has been a psychiatric nurse for 38 years and, in that time, has seen the benefits that family therapy can give to people.

But he has also seen a distinct lack of offering for those who really need it. Instead of lamenting this, he decided to do something about it.

Elstree Family Conversations is a free service to families which brings together four other experts to offer sessions that help unpick family conflict.

“All families are diverse and you can’t judge another family from your own,” Les says.

“When people are in conflict they go into their natural way of being which they initially observed and developed in their family of origin.”

Sometimes they might blame others or become aggressive.

Les says the sessions can help people and families become aware of how they react in conflict situations, which can help each family member make small but significant changes in the future.

“By understanding different family roles you’re no longer a prisoner to them.”

He says the best predictor of success is self-control. “We are helping families improve their self-control.”

The five professionals donate their time and energy to put together a session that would otherwise cost $1200.

“We are doing it because we know how successful it can be and we know that others can’t offer it,” Les says. “I think something like this would have been such a good help to my own solo father.”

He says one session can make a big difference and is not a huge commitment for a family.

The team was based at Victory but are now looking for a permanent home and hoping someone might want to donate a comfortable, warm space.

They have seen 10 families in Victory and want to be able to offer their service to about 15 families a year.

Les says they hope local GPs might think of them when they are approached by clients in relationship distress.

For more information, you can email lg.watt@orcon.net or call 0221098756.