Helping Families See Eye to Eye
What happens when family members find themselves at an impasse over a decision about how to care for an aging parent or a loved one with disabilities? Or manage that person’s financial assets?
How can you move forward when it seems as if you’ve exhausted all avenues of communication, but everyone is still divided?
Complex and emotionally charged family relationships can become strained during times of stress or crisis, making even the simplest conversations impossible. Our experience helping hundreds of families navigating complicated decisions has shown us time and again that most families can benefit from having an impartial third party facilitate family conversations.
For this reason, we are pleased to announce the addition of Amy Sereday, a Family Meeting Facilitator, to the CzepigaDalyPope staff. Amy, who will facilitate collaborative family meetings, holds a Master’s degree in Negotiation and Conflict Resolution from Columbia University and is excited to provide expert support to families who need help finding common ground and a way forward. You can click here to read more about Amy.
To give you a sense of what a Family Facilitator is and why and how it could help families, we recently asked Amy a few questions. Take a look:
- What brought you to this field, Amy?
I began my legal career as a paralegal, but felt that my communications and family dynamics expertise could be put to more direct use for our clients. Facilitating family meetings lets me help people on a deeper level by providing a framework in which individuals and groups can be heard and work productively through hard conversations.
- What is the difference between facilitation and social work or family therapy?
Unlike social work and family therapy, which are primarily forms of counseling, facilitation focuses on building consensus and planning a way forward. At its most basic, it is a pragmatic approach to help families organize their thoughts. Facilitation is less about finding all the answers and more about asking the right questions so that we make difficult conversations more productive. We articulate the problem, identify the possible options for dealing with the problem, and create a roadmap for progress.
- How does family facilitation complement elder law?
I reduce family members’ anxiety by “translating” the sometimes overwhelming legal aspects of a case into more manageable pieces. On the flip side, helping families work through the emotional issues helps streamline communications with the attorneys. In my role, I bring value to both sides – the family and the attorneys – ultimately enabling a more efficient and cost-effective process.
- Is it unusual for a family to require facilitation services? What typically creates such a need?
Most families can benefit from working with a facilitator, but many either don’t have access to one or feel awkward taking advantage of them. Needing facilitation doesn’t mean that your family is broken or dysfunctional. It just means that you’re in unfamiliar territory and need a little guidance to get everyone on the same page.Many of the situations we deal with at CzepigaDalyPope involve life transitions that cause family members’ individual responsibilities and roles to change in unexpected or challenging ways. I help ease families through those changes so they can adapt more easily and effectively to their new reality.
Some families engage me before things get complicated, but many reach out when they’ve reached an impasse. Sometimes, this happens because they’ve jumped into a solution before they fully understood the problem. Other times, distance between family members creates a communication pattern that makes some parties uncomfortable. Whatever the case, I have a wide range of tools to help resolve whatever problems are stalling the conversation.
The facilitation process helps families deal with all of their concerns and worries in a very non-confrontational and productive way. It helps them arrive at a mutually beneficial solution without jeopardizing their personal relationships. This is the kind of value family facilitation can bring to almost any situation related to elder law or special needs planning. It’s a value that I’m very happy to bring to the table for CzpeigaDalyPope’s clients.
To learn more about how Amy works and how a collaborative family meeting may help your family, click here or call us at (860) 236-7673.