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  • Writer's picturedrleoniewhite

Why “Helping Families Thrive Cards”?

Updated: Sep 16, 2021

I've always been passionate about the importance of relationships and family, and keen to find ways to offer support to people with what is one of the most amazing, and also potentially one of the most challenging aspects of life, relationships.

We all manage the challenge of being human in relationships, and in parenting, we are doing what has been described as the best... and hardest... job in the world.

Parents, families, and relationships deserve support and care. Parents deserve support for themselves as people, and also for their children – so that they be the type of parent that they truly would like to be …which then benefits their children. The same goes for people in a couple relationship – looking after yourself helps you to be the type of partner that fits with your values and principles, your best ‘relationship-self’ if you like…and benefits your partner.

It was about this time a year ago that I was inspired to help families by providing a resource that families could access, and that would enhance the work of any helping professional involved with children, couples, or families. I was inspired to create something that could help families connect to their values and to each other, be the type of family they aspire to be, manage challenges and stressors, communicate, solve problems, and grow and thrive.

I also wanted to acknowledge and honour each family’s uniqueness and self-determination. So what kind of resource could cater to diversity and uniqueness? And not be proscriptive and directive? What if some families wanted help with learning how to 'be together' and other families wanted to develop their communication and problem-solving? And how could I put this resource together in a way that was easy to use and accessible?

Something else I love to do is garden, and I was caught by the parallels of my garden and my work as a Family Therapist and Psychologist. Each garden is unique, with its own composition of plants that grows and changes over time. Some plants thrive naturally and other need a bit more attention and care. Sometimes companion planting is helpful, or adding a new plant or tree really adds to the garden overall. And just as each garden grows in its own unique way and sometimes needs a little extra care and attention, so too does each family.

Each family will have their own hopes, goals, composition, structure and ways of being. Families will be doing some things naturally that are helping them thrive, and figuring out what these things are enables the family to do even more of them. Families might also like to decide on aspects of family life they would like help with to ‘add into the garden’, or ‘companion plant’ alongside things that are working well. The purpose of these cards is to help families, and couples, decide on aspects of relationship life that they would like help with – by providing information, ideas, and conversation starters in relation to these areas.

Helping Families Thrive Cards are not a checklist of everything a couple or family should have or do, but instead they are a smorgasbord of ideas based on my experience, and family therapy theory and research. In keeping with the garden metaphor, the cards are divided up into 6 colour petals (categories) – communication, fun and enjoyment, nurturing, belonging, problem solving and family structure. Each petal has several cards representing the aspects of the petal and each of these cards has:

- An explanation

- Description

- Tips and Practical Ideas

- Conversation Starters

Families can choose ideas from the cards to grow the type of family they would like to be, adapt ideas to suit their unique position, and use the ideas on the cards as inspiration for directions they would like to take in life.

Families can use the cards themselves, initially reading through them and then deciding which cards to discuss as a couple, and which cards or ideas and activities from cards to bring to the family. Families can also use these cards in collaboration with a Helping Professional.

Helping Professionals can use these cards to reflect on the children, couples, and families who they work with. And, similar to families, Helping Professionals can consider which cards fit for parent discussions and which cards or ideas from cards fit for family discussions and activities.

My hope is that these cards inspire others, just as I have been inspired by the all the families I know and have had the privilege to work with.

Dr Leonie White - Clinical Family Therapist and Psychologist

Helping people grow, connect and thrive in life’s unique journey.

Please note - this article is educational in nature and does not constitute therapy advice.

Please seek help from a professional if you require support.

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