Family Support Services: The Fun Program
For some clients and families the process of going through therapy and making changes in their lives falls under the category of “easier said, than done”. Therapists often focus on problems and success working towards some pretty big goals. Accomplishing those goals while only meeting for one hour, one time a week, can be challenging. These clients can be referred to the Family Support Services Program. When Family Support Workers (staff) meet with the clients, they are trying to help that client build on life skills learned in therapy. A Family Support Worker helps the clients practice their new skills (and hone some old ones) in their home, school, and community.
I jokingly sometimes refer to the Family Support Services Program as “The Fun Program.” Often staff are teaching and practicing new skills with the client and they don’t even realize it. If a client is having a hard time getting along with siblings, staff might try teaching them a new board game or card game. Staff encourages the client to socialize and have fun rather than getting upset or stressed out when they may be losing. Family Support Workers might encourage the client to teach their parents how to play the game to promote a family fun night and help them figure out a way to build this communication with their family. Games can be metaphors for life. There are rules. There are goals. Sometimes you win; sometimes you lose.
For older adolescent clients (16 years and older) staff might be helping them transition to young adulthood. Family Support Workers might be helping the client prepare to find their first job. Staff may teach the client how to find job openings. They may coach the client how to present themselves if they are able to talk to a manager. Family Support Workers may role play successful interview skills. For some clients continuing education or even military service is more of a goal rather than working. Staff has helped clients research programs and complete college tours. Staff has also helped clients talk with military recruiters to determine if this is a path for them.
The Family Support Services Program also completes the circle back to therapy. Family Support Workers are able to share their observations of the client’s home environment and community behaviors back to the client’s therapist. This information sharing gives the therapy team a more holistic perspective of a client’s life, the challenges they face, and helps in developing strategies on how to deal and cope with those challenges.
Clients served in family support report gaining useful life skills in a non-threatening, natural environment while still being able to have fun and making new connections!