Multi-sensory approaches to boosting child visibility in work with men

Jun 17
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Multi-sensory work involves talking to the eyes, not just the ears. Through using multisensory tools, the family violence worker increases the presence of the child without them being physically present. As the child’s focus is externalised, the worker and the father have a discussion that is often twice as long and twice as deep when compared to having a verbal discussion alone.

My presentation at the Child-Centred Approaches to Ending Family Violence conference will overview some multisensory tools used in the tradition of Impact Therapy. Impact Therapy is action and insight-oriented, and often resolution-oriented. The use of the tools is to increase awareness and motivation (through developing an ‘Ah-ha’ moment of insight), so the client is more likely to act on a referral to access a behaviour change program.

Multi-sensory tools are useful in increasing a father’s awareness of the importance of generativity. Generativity uses the concept of forces where ego strengths are developed through life in response to challenges experienced. The development of strengths (hopes and dreams) and tensions (fears and anxieties) complement other strength-based and resilience approaches that are used today in community services/health practice. When working with men, motivation to change is best mobilised when the focus is not primarily on inner self-reflections but on generative reflections.

Generative connections towards children

An important insight into generativity is that it is best mobilised when a key relationship has a greater perceived vulnerability than the client themselves. In women’s lives, it is better articulated in the ideas of nurturing and mothering, and may also be rejected as a woman stands against these expectations. In men’s lives, it is less articulated, which is what makes it more powerful. Often in family violence situations, the men will not see their partner in a generative way (unless they have decided to exploit her vulnerabilities). However, they will often have a generative connection towards their children.

To deepen the generative connection, ask the client questions about the needs of the key relationship (usually focusing on the needs of the child). Focus on the impact the violence has on the relationship and use generative questioning to explore past, present and future insights.

My presentation at the Child-Centred Approaches to Ending Family Violence conference will highlight the wisdom of a recently published book – King, A. (2017). Engaging men’s responses to family violence. Printed in Australia – ISBN 978-0-6480015-0-8 (Paperback).

Child Family Violence


Submitted by Andrew King

Andrew King

Andrew King is the Practice Specialist, Groupwork and Community Education Manager at Relationships Australia, NSW. He is a specialist trainer in group work for professionals throughout Australia, Asia and Canada in group work, working with men and strengths based practice. He is an experienced practitioner and has published a range of professional articles. Andrew has worked with teenagers who have drug and alcohol problems, young people with a mental health issues, parenting education, families who have children with special needs and coordinated a large fathers’ centre.

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