Brian Cantwell
The Family Conflicts Consultation Service

Our services

No two families or situations are the same, therefore we cannot offer off-the-shelf solutions. However, to demonstrate the nature and range of our work we have included some real-life case studies below. The details in these case studies have been changed to protect the identity of our clients.

Case study: Jane and Peter

Jane and Peter had been locked in a 3-year Court battle over their children's arrangements since separating. Each brought their own personal difficulties into an already tense scenario. Jane had an unsettled childhood, following her father's desertion when she was four and Peter was suffering from post-traumatic stress following an accident at work. Both parents partners' had joined the 'battle' over the two children concerned.

After careful individual sessions, gathering histories and making an initial assessment of the nature of the adults' conflict, a female colleague and I met, for a morning session, with both parents and the mother's husband (Peter having recently separated from his partner).

Having done a good deal of 'clearing the air', a commitment was made by all concerned to share information and to work together in the childrens' best interests. Peter's final comment was that "We have achieved more in 3hrs today than in 3yrs at Court!".

Case study: Simon and Jackie

Simon (15) and his mother were referred some 3 years after the sudden death of his father in a road accident.

The bereavement initially strengthened the bond between Simon and his mother, Jackie. However it later became tense when Jackie formed a new relationship and in due course began to cohabit with Joe. He was widowed and had the care of his two teenage children.

Following the introduction of new family members into the home, Simon began to clash badly with both Joe and the other children. He subsequently went to stay with paternal relatives and refused to have any form of contact with his mother.

Work was done with Jackie and Simon, both individually and together. It became clear that their relationship remained at heart a strong one, but that pressure on their relationship was being generated and maintained by external forces within the broader family network. In addition to Simon finding it hard to find his place in Jackie's new family unit, we found that the paternal side of Simon's family were acting 'protectively', by turning against Jackie and her decision to enter a new relationship.

Whilst these family dynamics could not readily be changed Simon and Jackie had been able to reassure each other (and themselves) about the fundamental strength of their bond - and to develop strategies for managing the competing family pressures upon each of them.

Case study: Kate and Christine

Kate separated from her partner around 8 years ago, and had a 12 year old daughter named Christine from this marriage. Since the separation Kate had been taking care of Christine but the child maintained regular contact with her father.

Unfortunately, some years after the separation Kate experienced a breakdown in her mental health, eventually being hospitalised for a period of around 8 weeks. She then saw little of Christine for 18 months, as she gradually returned to stability and better health.

Once fit enough to return to work, Kate stated that she also felt ready to resume the care of Christine, who had lived with her father and his partner during Kate's illness. However, by this point, Christine was reluctant to see her mother for more than a few minutes, usually preferring the meetings to be in a public place.

The work with Kate, alone, was around helping her to reflect on the possible reasons for Christine's apparently rejective behaviour towards her and to explore how, as a loving and now capable mother, she might best rebuild her relationship with her daughter over time.

In a follow up telephone call with Kate, some months after our work concluded, she reported that she was in quite regular contact with Christine and felt more optimistic about their future relationship.

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