1C Partnering and cohabitation
Building capacity to sustain relationships for men with families at risk of homelessness
This program focuses on men with families where the circumstances of high-risk homelessness leaves the families vulnerable to separation, violence, childhood trauma, social isolation and disenfranchisement.
Uniting’s ‘Doorways for Men and Couples with Accompanying Children’ program has been operating for over three years in south-west Sydney. It is an integrated Counselling/Casework Support Program based on a therapeutic framework. Designed to build capacity to manage extreme circumstance and maintain ongoing family functioning. The focus is keeping families intact, building resilience and skills, and attaining secure housing.
Men have had limited engagement with community-based services historically. Although targeting men, ‘Doorways’ focus is an integrative ‘whole of family’ approach. The Casework provides comprehensive connections and linkages to other support services. The counselling supports the individual and couple with trauma-informed therapeutic intervention enabling improved relationships, stronger family connections and overall capacity building.
Significant outcomes of the program included high attendance rates and sustained levels of engagement with the service. The client is able to access both emotional and practical support, while the workers have developed a holistic set of skills that reflect an integrative and collaborative approach. In addition there has been noted improvement in parenting skills, relationships within families and through greater engagement there has been success in many men and couples undertaking parenting programs within Uniting where previously they resisted.
The strengths of the integrated therapeutic approach include a ‘soft-entry’ pathway to therapy for the clients. They are introduced to the Counsellor at an appropriate juncture in their engagement and encouraged to augment their practical goals with therapeutic support. For many clients the familiarity of the service and caseworker is enough for them to enter in to counselling, as it is one less doorway they need to open. A male practitioner currently occupies the counsellor role and he is trained in trauma-informed approaches, men’s behavioural change programs and person-centred counselling.
Brian Tranter, MA Family and Couple Therapy UNSW, MA Sociology, BA SocSci, Brian has 25 years’ experience in community development, 18 years’ experience managing community based services, provided clinical supervision for over 12 years and currently Coordinator of the Uniting Doorways for Men with Families program in South West Sydney.
Adrian Workman, BAppSocSci (Couns), PACFA In addition to counselling Adrian has group facilitation experience in birthing education, with dad’s and mum’s groups, play groups for men and their children, and with separated parents. He has authored and delivered group programs on topics including post-separation parenting skills and emotional intelligence.