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Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 201–210 | Cite as

To Navigate the Normative and the Not-Normative Family Therapists Negotiating Their Professional Identities with Parents Whose Children are Placed in Public Care

  • Ellen SyrstadEmail author
  • Ottar Ness
Original Paper

Abstract

This article examines the professional identities of family therapists employed by Family Counselling Services (FCS) in Norway and their experiences providing therapeutic services to parents whose children are placed in public care. Through focus groups and individual interviews, a qualitative study of seven family therapists in FCS found that they struggle with contradictory positions when guiding parents due to the dichotomy between their personal feelings and theoretical background as systemic therapists. The struggle emerges when different systems indicate different versions of reality and when the therapists react to how the welfare system, in general, treats parents with such experiences. This study argues that a systemic approach to family therapy is useful both for dealing with parents’ often fragmented stories and for reconnecting parents to society by allowing them to tell their own stories. In these situations, the help offered by therapists is often inadequate for the complexity and enormity of the parents’ needs. Collaboration with other welfare institutions is particularly important in such cases, but this creates its own complications due to the fact that different actors interpret situations in different ways.

Keywords

Family therapy Qualitative research Professional identities Positioning theory Child protection 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The study was funded by VID Specialized University College in Oslo, Norway.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.VID Specialized University OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Department for Education and Lifelong LearningNorwegian University of Science and TechnologyTrondheimNorway

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