As if the ongoing hardship, tragedy, and trauma via Covid-19 was not enough, the violent homicides of Mr. Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Ms. Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and Mr. George Floyd in Minnesota are pushing us to the brink. We noted recently that research has not determined the pandemic’s ultimate impact on child development, family life, and our social world. What we do know convincingly, however, is that racism, inequality, and injustice have harmed innumerable children and their families, as well as, many of our communities of color, over the past 400-years. These untimely and tragic deaths do not shine a new light on an old problem, they simply underscore the point that racism, inequality, and injustice remain alive and well in 2020. Although most Americans agree that this vile cultural practice must stop, the goal will not be met today and the search for solutions cannot be put off until tomorrow. What can we, the FBMHS professional community, do now to help break the insidious grip of racism, inequality, and injustice on our consumers and their families? Although each professional must rely on their own moral compass to direct their personal efforts, we, as a collective, can fight for tolerance, acceptance, equality, and justice. How is this done? Focus on two key practice-based activities.
The first key practice-based activity is for teams to exert an unremitting push to help families see, access, and utilize their individual and collective competence under the unremitting clouds of fear, helplessness, hopelessness, and disconnection. This ethical duty to advance the wellbeing of the individual and the family is accomplished by enacting a commitment to a theoretically coherent, clinically relevant, research informed clinical model. Remember, ESFT not only meets the criteria, but, also, is rooted in a 60-year history of successfully helping families navigate a plethora of hardships, tragedies, and traumas. Adherence to the model and engaging in supervision and training to build competence serves as a foundation from which teams confidently beat the drum of hope, and promote the family’s self-efficacy in defiance of racism, inequality, and injustice.
The second practice-based activity is for the team-supervisor-trainer triangle to find ways to construct a nurturing holding container as teams put themselves in harm’s way, in what can be, and sometimes is, an unsafe and violence-prone world. Why? Some of our children, their caregivers, and loved ones fear for their lives in their own homes and communities. Isomorphically, some of our clinicians, traveling to and from various communities, also, worry about their own wellbeing, and, sometimes, fear for their lives. Here, a nurturing holding container always conducts a risk- benefit analysis of in- home care versus the use of technology (e.g., videoconferencing, computer, or telephone) to facilitate FBMHS. In some situations, an in-home session may be clinically necessary, ethically responsible, and agreed upon by all stake holders. Each participant should take precautionary measures like handwashing, maintaining appropriate social distancing, and strategically timing when to enter and exit risk prone communities. In other situations, the risks to the physical, mental, and social wellbeing of the family and/or team outweighs the benefits of an in- home session and dictate the use of TA-ESFT. Here, technologically assisted care is the right call.
Many variables must be considered when walking the ethical obligation-safety tightrope. What works for one team and family may not work for another team and family. As always, the PCFTTC seeks to make clinical training an arena for our team-supervisor-trainer triangle to carefully consider and practice our clinical choices. We look forward to connecting with each of you through our mutual struggles of finding ways to promote child and family development in a free, moral, and just world.