Connecting through nature - One family's view of FUN family therapy
Julie and her children Laura and Martin came along to one of our Families United in Nature (FUN) Family Therapy adventures. This is her story.
When I first heard about FUN family therapy through a friend I thought ‘that’s just what we need’. I am not someone who would have sought out therapy but I loved the idea of it being outside and us all having a day out. It was a few weeks into lockdown and we had been on lots of walks together so I knew the children would be up for it. I explained that we were going to meet 2 ladies, do some exploring and have an adventure and that’s exactly what we did.
The children’s Dad had 2 bleeds on his brain over a year ago and is currently in a rehabilitation centre. Lucy is 7 and fairly reserved, I would describe her as being quiet with a lot going on. Michael is 4 and is nearly always described by friends as having lots of energy.
I think I am a very open person and happy to talk about our situation but it does feel like I have been ‘feeling my way through’ and I have been concerned about how to discuss such a big thing with such small children and the impact it is having on them. I think I saw the FUN Family therapy day as an opportunity to check in to see that we were all OK and perhaps get some insights into what we were doing, and were not doing.
I spent some time talking to Chiara on the phone and via e-mail before the session so she had an idea of our back story. On the day we were due to meet it was wet and miserable but we decided to go ahead. There wasn’t a moan about the weather from either of the children all day. When I asked at the end of the day ‘did you enjoy that’ there was a resounding ‘yes … it was fun’.
I think I saw the FUN Family therapy day as an opportunity to check in to see that we were all OK
The room where we started was really homely and full of interesting things. The children are curious by nature and were intrigued by all the bits and pieces, particularly the jars of string. In the room the ground rules for the day were set before we made our way outside. The children loved the activities, mainly about finding things in nature, and playing icebreaker type games. The ‘what animal are you?’ game was a particular favourite.
It was amazing to be out on a walk with the children and while Michael was busy hunting snails, Lucy and I were able to have a really good ‘walk and talk’ she opened up to me about things that were going on in her head and I was really moved to understand how much she understood and had taken on about her Dad and the effect his condition was having on all of us. It was a really enlightening conversation. There was something about being out in the fresh air, in nature, that gave us all a feeling of connection with each other and with the world around us. Michael really embraced the nature side of the session and made sure that all his snails were safely returned to their natural habitat. For us this part of the session gave us the time and space to stop and talk and be a family.
There was something about being out in the fresh air, in nature, that gave us all a feeling of connection with each other and with the world around us.
Back in the room the activity that really sticks in my mind was the string activity about family emotions, I think because during it Lucy identified that after my evening call with Dad I change. I hadn’t realised I did but the children could see that I was often more stressed, distracted and unsettled after the call. So, just as we were all meant to be calming down for the evening, I was worrying about things I had to do and churning the conversation around in my head. Having this pointed out to me by the children was incredible and I took the decision to move the calls to later in the evening, once they are in bed. And this has worked really well for all of us.
At the end of the session Lucy, who had definitely come out of herself and felt very safe in the environment Chiara and Julia had created, gave us all a little performance. It was lovely to see this amount of confidence in my usually shy daughter.
The family manifesto we put together is on our fridge and we all check into it occasionally, it also sparks conversations with friends and family. When I am asked about the manifesto I tell people about the session. I recommend it to families 100%. You can learn so much about your kids and it helps you remember that they are little human beings that you can have really interesting and insightful conversations with, and that they don’t miss a thing!
The session was really well managed, something as a teacher I really appreciate, there was a structure to the day but it was totally flexible taking into account the children’s personalities and interests. Chiara and Julia were able to take a different approach or way of doing things if they felt it was the right thing to do.
For me, being able to check in with experienced, well trained and incredibly thoughtful family therapist like Chiara and outdoor leader Julia was invaluable. They let us find our space at our pace but also gave us real insights into myself and my children’s behaviour and how simple adaptions can have different outcomes. I learnt so much about how to chat to my children, doing the things they love, in nature.
FUN Family therapy
The four hour sessions are based in a ‘back to nature’ location with basic facilities
Families of up to 5 can attend, but if your family is larger please call us to discuss your requirements.
The eco-family therapy session is facilitated by 2 experienced professionals
To book, contact us using the button on the right