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Couples & Families

Relationship distress is very unsettling for couples, and for families. Breaking up can be a particularly stressful time for everyone involved.

Our experience, and research, shows that even when people in parenting roles think that children don’t know about the conflict or difficulties in the relationship, they do, and can be really affected by it.

When we talk about “parenting roles” or the “parental relationship”, this means the people who act in a parenting role for children. This could for example be grandparents, a mother and the grandparent, aunty and uncle, mam and dad.

You can access materials to help you think about, and improve, your own relationships via this link.

The Early Intervention Foundation have reviewed research evidence, and are clear that:

  • High levels of conflict between parenting figures makes children at greater risk of poor outcomes as young infants, children, and teenagers
  • Research increasingly recognises that these problems affect a child’s long-term life chances, and welfare
  • These negative outcomes can be experienced by the children’s children when they grow up – they pass through the generations
  • Parental relationships are more important for children’s outcomes than “parenting”; if we support parenting skills where there is parental conflict, it doesn’t make a vast difference to child outcomes. However working on the inter-parental relationship can improve parenting AND children’s outcomes.

We help couples (with or without children) and families through:

  • Moving On (Teesside) – individual and joint work with parenting couples (together or separated) that have some relationship distress
  • Mediation (Teesside) – Family mediation is quicker and more cost-effective than heading to court. It reduces conflict, and your family stays in control of arrangements over children, property and finance. We offer private and legal aid mediation for people with or without children (offering legally aided child only or “all issues” mediation including financial) through Tees Valley Mediation
  • Parents as Partners (Hartlepool) – a 16 session evidence based groupwork programme for people in parenting roles that have some difficulties in their relationship
  • Family Focus (Hartlepool) – trialling a brief intervention approach that helps families improve communication, and through this, their relationships
  • Couples Therapy (Mentalisation Based) (Hartlepool) – trialling a therapy for couples where the conflict in their relationship can sometimes result in violence or very problematic patterns of conflict
  • Family Group Conferencing (Middlesbrough) – trialling a programme that helps families make their own decisions to improve the safety and welfare of children, supported in organising the process by an independent worker

We also support families through our work leading the Healthy Relationships Partnership.