Fathers and Children in Troubled Times (CPD73h)

Event overview

Guest Speaker: Gill Gorrell Barnes

Following the publication of her latest book, `Staying Attached: Fathers and Children in Troubled Times' , Gill will lead a workshop exploring some of the assumptions and contradictions fathers encounter in others and in themselves, when traditional roles, behaviours and expectations are challenged by women and children. Developing their curiosity about their children's minds, and using children's ideas and wishes to build mind mindedness, is a valuable focus in systemic family work with conflict ridden relationships, especially where fathers are not a part of their children's daily lives.

How do men 'do’ fatherhood today and what kind of serious attention do fathers get from professionals working with families?  

This workshop will be a thinking forum for all professionals who see children and mothers as part of their working lives, whether or not they also see fathers in the course of their work.  It will discuss a range of contemporary fatherhoods, fathers seeking  a parental relationship with their children,  non live-in fathers, fathering in the context of acrimonious divorce,  many aspects of step fathering as well as the additional dilemmas posed by mental illness and ensuing relationship problems.


The workshop will explore aspects of children's attachment to and expectations of their fathers, in different forms of contemporary family life.  It will look at how children's own ideas and curiosity about fatherhood can shape father's behaviours for better outcomes.  It will consider why fathers have played such a small part in professional theorising and clinical practice, compared to mothers. Research on how fathers are positioned by professionals in many social work and mental health domains suggests that fathers have a negative press or are not considered as integral to family work.  

This workshop will seek to change negative thinking around fathers. It will also seek to invite a more curious exploration about their roles in their children's' lives.

Learning outcomes will include a focus on using children's curiosity about fathers through questions and discussions and on the use of father's ideas about themselves as children growing up, as fathers to their own children's growing up and their wishes and hopes for their children. 

The workshop will help develop fathers’ ability to talk to their children in difficult circumstances and explore how professionals can work alongside to increase this capacity. 

Gill has worked as a family therapist since 1970 and as a trainer and supervisor since the later 1970's.  She initiated the Masters programme at the Institute of Family Therapy and was a Tutor and Supervisor  on the Tavistock Clinic family therapy training.   She has taught on the changing nature of families and family life nationally and internationally for forty years. From 2000 she worked alongside the Family Court, as expert witness in cases where high acrimony between parents created the need for special assessment in relation to contact; and where mental health issues in one or both parents was creating concerns around the wellbeing of the children.  In this context her interest in dispossessed fathers, developed earlier through the divorce programme run in the 1990's in the Department for Children and Parents at the Tavistock, strengthened and provides the back story for the writing of her  book ‘Staying Attached: Fathers and Children in Troubled Times’.

A date for this workshop will be published here in due course


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