Learning | Growing | Thriving

Meet Kelly and her family

“Relax. That’s what we’re doing now that we couldn’t do before,” Madison, aged 13, said. “Mum is now the parent she’s always wanted to be. She makes her own rules, which we agree to. She can be herself more – be more comfortable. And, we can all be ourselves.

Madison, her mum Kelly and her brother and sister are clients of our Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare program. They started the program midway through 2018 after a specialist domestic and family violence outreach provider had referred Kelly for support.

“Our worker there had just heard about the service and said it was fantastic,” Kelly said. “Gregory from YFS contacted me straight away. It took a little while for me to reply but I’m so glad I did. If it wasn’t for YFS, we wouldn’t be where we are now – physically and mentally.”

Before connecting with us, Kelly and her children had been living at a family member’s house. Kelly had been looking for strategies to overcome conflict and help everyone get along better.

“I couldn’t be the parent that I wanted to under another person’s roof,” she said. “I had tried the Department of Housing a lot, but they just turned me away. YFS let me through the door.”

Straight away, Gregory, who is a therapist in the program, set to work about making change, together.

He started by encouraging the family to share their story: a challenging and scary activity that the family bravely worked through.

Then they worked on becoming more connected and in tune with one another, which included support to explore and regulate their emotions, coping strategies, communication advice, parenting skills, boundary setting and personal safety.

“One of the first things that struck me about the children and Kelly is how resilient they are,” Gregory said. “This family had experienced high levels of domestic violence and had lived through some truly heartbreaking experiences. No matter how tough it got, they were so strong and courageous. They put themselves out there to do this program.”

During therapy, an altercation with a relative meant Kelly and her children had to quickly leave their then home. Kelly contacted Gregory for help.

“Straight away, Gregory and his boss met me, took me to YFS, showed me all my options and I ended up one afternoon getting the house we are in now,” Kelly said. “They showed me that I am a decent parent and that I am capable of this. For a long time, I didn’t think I was.”

The family, who had tried counselling before, most appreciated the hands-on approach taken by Functional Family Therapy.

Under this program, clients don’t travel to a therapist. Instead, therapists conduct sessions at families’ homes.

“Gregory came to our house a couple of days a week at first,” Kelly said. “He then came every week after school – he had to work around the kids’ football too. That made it so much easier, especially for the kids. Doing this in our own home made us feel more comfortable.

“He attended some of the kids’ school appointments too. He worked with the school on putting together some behaviour activities. He put forward a lot of my concerns when I didn’t know how to voice them. So he was my support person too.”

Madison said she and her siblings particularly enjoyed the program’s charade activities.

“We did kiddy type things that were easy for us to remember,” she said. “It’s brought us all closer together.”

Find out more about our Functional Family Therapy – Child Welfare program on the YFS website: