This page has been developed to provide information, links and resources for Single Session Family Consultation for practitioners and trainers.
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SSFC - An Overview
In assisting the move towards family/whānau-centred mental health and addiction services, the Supporting Parents Healthy Children (SPHC) National Project Team have partnered with The Bouverie Centre, Victoria’s Family Institute to implement the Single Session Family Consultation Model across the mental health and addiction sectors in New Zealand.
The Single Session Family Consultation model (SSFC) is a brief process for engaging and meeting with families/whānau that aims to clarify how the family/whānau will be involved in the individual’s care or support, and to help family/whānau members identify and address their own needs.
SSFC provides a clear, structured and yet flexible process, and can be facilitated by practitioners following training. Training in SSFC provides a real opportunity to increase knowledge and skills in partnering with families/whānau. Current evidence indicates that families/whānau and service users experience SSFC as helpful with indications that it can also improve outcomes (Hopkins et al,1 2016; Poon et al,2 2017).
SSFC training is especially suited to practitioners working in adult mental health and addictions services, where the service user is typically seen on their own. This is because the SSFC process is designed to help practitioners make the shift from individual to family/whānau engagement in a manner that does not threaten the practitioner’s existing relationship with the service user. It is important to remember that facilitating a single session consultation, which may include children and other family members, is about engaging with the family and problem solving, rather than family therapy.
SSFC training is also useful for practitioners working with infants, children and young people. While many practitioners often work with parents, caregivers, whānau and children, SSFC provides a framework for involving other family members such as a non-custodial or separated parent, grandparents, aunts and uncles, or anyone that the service user, or in the case of younger children, their parents want to include. SSFC can help to guide the conversation about who to involve, in what timeframe and what will be discussed in the session.
The Project Team
The SPHC National Project Team have worked with the Bouverie Centre to adapt SSFC for use within Aotearoa New Zealand. Key to this has been working with a cultural advisory group to develop a cultural adaption of the model. Consultation on the cultural adaption included people from a range of cultures and ethnicities: Māori, Pasifika and Asian. Whilst the adaptation is from a predominantly Te Ao Māori perspective, all of the people contributing to the consultation were in agreement that the principles of working from a family/ whānau-centred perspective, with significant consideration of the processes of engagement, specific cultural practices, and a community perspective are common to a range of cultures and ethnicities in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Further work has also been done to include a specific module on the involvement of children in SSFC sessions. Given that an estimated 25-30% of adults using mental health and/or addiction services are parents caring for dependent children, this module provides practitioners with a safe and practical way of discussing parenting and parenting issues, and ensuring the needs of children in the family/whānau are being addressed.
SSFC does not require practitioners in adult services to become family therapists or child therapists, rather it provides a practical flexible structure and approach for delivering family/whānau-centred practice.
SSFC training is now conducted regularly in Aotearoa New Zealand. It is a blended training programme, which involves two e-learning modules and a one-day face-to-face training programme. For a list of SSFC trainers see below.
If you have any questions about SSFC please contact Karin Isherwood.
 Hopkins et al (2016). Single sessions family therapy in youth mental health: Can it help? Australasian Psychiatry, 25(2)
2 Poon AWC, Harvey C, Fuzzard S, O’Hanlon B (2017). Implementing a family-inclusive practice model in youth mental health services in Australia. Early Intervention in Psychiatry, 2017 Oct 20. doi: 10.111eip.12505 Epub
*There are other trainers around the country who are not listed, please contact Karin Isherwood to see if there is a trainer in your area and how you can access a training.
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