Family Group Conferencing – A new tool for responding to psychosocial crises with respect

Family Group Conferencing – A new tool for responding to psychosocial crises with respect

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The CRPD requires the abolition of forced treatment and detention on the basis of psychosocial disability. This call has stemmed a search for practices from all over the world that can respond to mental health crises with dignity and respect for all concerned. Family Group Conferencing (FGC), a tool which has been used to resolving family disputes, has been adapted in the Netherlands to respond to psychosocial crises. Mental health activist and PERSON collaborator, Jolijn Santegoeds, is today’s guest blogger.

Family Group Conferencing is a voluntary consultation process around a key question in the life of the individual concerned and his/her social circle. The main person selects friends and/or family to discuss a central question, and to help find solutions. Together they can compose a plan which sets out which steps need to be taken, in order to answer the key question. Support by both formal and informal care can be combined in the plan. Family Group Conferencing embraces the core view that persons themselves are the experts about their own lives.

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Using Family Group Conferencing (FGC) for supported decision making in psychosocial crisis situations is a potential alternative to avoid forced psychiatric interventions. Instead of undesirable interventions, such as forced psychiatric treatments, the aim is to identify a range of desirable solutions on an individual level, to live through a psychosocial crisis situation together. The persons involved can often think of very practical and effective community-based solutions, which grab at the root of the series of problems and consequences. They know what is needed, and what would help.

eigenkracht Every person has the right to make decisions about their own life. Family Group Conferencing is a way of supported decision making which empowers individuals, but it also empowers communities as a whole. FGC strengthens bonds between people, by social engagement, which is an important feature of an inclusive community and wellbeing. The approach of Family Group Conferencing implies a culture shift in organizing care systems: of giving capacity to the ‘object’, of asking for self-defined solutions and to facilitate these. FGC has the potential to enable a culture shift in mental health care systems and in communities, and can provide an alternative to the incapacity-approach and the practice of forced treatments, by facilitating supported decision making.

In the Netherlands, a pilot project of using FGC to avoid coercion in psychosocial crisis situations was initiated by Stichting Mind Rights (Dutch DPO against forced psychiatric interventions, www.mindrights.nl ) and the Dutch FGC-organization “Eigen Kracht-Centrale” (www.eigen-kracht.nl).

More information on the project: http://punkertje.waarbenjij.nu/reisverslag/4567654/presentation-text-on-eindhoven-model-cosp

More information on FGC: European Network on Family Group Conferencing: www.fgcnetwork.eu

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This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of PERSON (Partnership to Ensure Reforms of Supports in Other Nations) and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.