“It is not just about doing or saying the right things”: Working systemically with parents whose children are placed in public care

Ellen Syrstad & Ottar Ness - The Journal of Family Therapy


This article explores the possibilities of a systemic approach in the support of parents whose children are placed in public care. The article is based on a qualitative study interviewing six parents who have received support from Norwegian Family Counselling Services (FCS) and seven systemic family therapists from FCS. Both groups were interviewed individually and in focus groups. The findings suggest that parents experienced less judgement from therapists in FCS than from caseworkers in CPS. Even if it could be challenging, the systemic therapists found a systemic approach useful to help parents develop agency and make meaning of their lives, as the parents struggled to have agency and understand why their children were placed in care. The article concludes that systemic approaches can be useful in these cases, combined with appropriate child protection interventions as necessary.