Interviews

I am conducting interviews as one of several methods of data collection for the Mothers Apart Project.  This is a community based action research project in which I look to members of the community to inform the planning and development of an intervention for mothers apart. In my masters research, I identified that there was a lack of specialised interventions to address the needs of mothers who have become, or are at risk of becoming, separated from their children.  These separations predominantly occur within a context of domestic/sexual violence/abuse and psychological/emotional abuse that is embedded in coercive control. I am looking to service users and service providers in the community to inform the planning stage of the project.  So far, they tell me that an intervention is needed and long overdue.

Originally, I had thought that a group intervention would best serve the needs of mothers apart but some professionals expressed doubts that the population (mothers apart or at risk of being apart) would attend due to a lack of service engagement. I have also been confronted with some very negative attitudes to mothers apart, especially blame, criticism and judgement where there appears to be a lack of empathic understanding and awareness of the issues faced by mothers apart. After conducting a preliminary needs assessment in Coventry it was clear that the first barrier to developing an intervention for mothers apart was the lack of motivation from service providers because they are the potential intervention implementers. After all, an intervention is pointless if there is nobody is willing to put it into operation. It is hardly surprising that mothers apart are failing to engage with services if there is such a lack of motivation to address their needs. But there are also professionals who are very interested in how they can help and support mothers apart as I discovered at the recent VIA Inaugural Conference 2014 and it is them that that I want to involve in my project through interviews and a monthly planning group.

Investigating the problem of how to address the needs of mothers apart is the overarching aim of my project. In order to investigate this problem, I have been working closely with mothers apart mainly from the charity, MATCH Mothers through the planning group that I lead on the 4th Wednesday of the month at Coventry Ricoh Arena Tesco Community Room. It seems though – that before we can address this problem – the problem of motivating professionals to address the needs of mothers apart in the first place needs to be prioritised. It was decided between members of the planning group that the best way forward would be an awareness training programme for professionals to respond with best practice to mothers who have become, or are at risk of becoming, separated from their children. Hence, this is the focus of the project, which is in the planning stage. This month, for the first time, we are welcoming members of the community who are service providers to the planning group.

The next planning group takes place on the 26th November and if you would like to have a say in what the training programme should look like please contact me on monkl@coventry.ac.uk for more information.  I am also conducting 1-2-1 interviews with individuals who are services providers, professionals, practitioners, volunteers, paid and unpaid workers and representatives of organisations. If you have any experience of working with and supporting mothers apart or have knowledge and awareness of the issues that they face I would love to hear from you. I am interested in talking to a wide variety of professionals who might come into contact with mothers apart including project workers, support workers, CAFCASS workers, social workers, solicitors, barristers, judges and those from the psychotherapeutic community, e.g. therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, psychotherapists, etc. I really want to hear about how you think professionals responding to mothers apart should be trained to be able to address the needs of mothers apart and provide appropriate help/support/advice, etc.

In the interviews, I will be focussing on what is important to find out from service providers by keeping in mind the ultimate aim of addressing the needs of mothers apart. I have got my first interview today and am very excited about what I will learn from this individual who has so kindly agreed to an interview. Although I have been confronted by much judgement towards mothers apart I am also meeting professionals who are empathic, compassionate, understanding and interested in this project. If you are one of them, I would really like to hear from you.

About Dr Laura Monk

I am a researcher and counselling tutor based at University of Nottingham. My doctoral research investigated how to improve professionals' responses to mothers who become separated from their children. I developed a training workshop for the professionals who mothers come into contact with - largely at the intersection of health and social care, the family courts and domestic abuse services. I am also a counsellor and psychotherapist and offer feminist therapy for survivors of domestic abuse - especially coercive control. I am a Women's Aid domestic violence prevention advocate.
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