I applied to co-facilitate a CEDAR women’s group 3 years ago, with limited group work experience and some awareness of issues around domestic abuse.
The concurrent nature of the programme interested me, and applying to co-facilitate a group seemed like a good opportunity to develop my group work skills and my understanding of domestic abuse, with the guidance and support of both my own senior and the CEDAR co-ordinator I worked with. My senior recognised it as an opportunity for me to develop professionally, and also as a means of bringing new and specific knowledge and approaches into the team. Our service often works with families who are experiencing or have experienced domestic abuse, so there was little question that creating a stronger link with CEDAR would be worthwhile.
During my first group I learned a lot about theoretical perspectives on domestic abuse through activities contained in the women’s programme. I benefited from delivering activities based around theories that I now know underpin much of the practice of domestic abuse agencies (the ‘power and control wheel’, the basics of cognitive behavioural therapy, solution focused models, risk assessment and safety planning, as well as of course learning so much from being exposed to the women’s personal stories. Working alongside women who were living through the aftermath of domestic abuse was humbling and rewarding. Some of the women were rebuilding their families after decades of abuse, and their determination to make things better for their children was evident. What amazed me even more was the support they offered one another. It seemed that even in the middle of crises, or when their own outlook was so bleak, they were always ready to listen to and understand each other.
I have now co-facilitated several women and children’s groups with CEDAR, and have become much more confident in many ways. I am now familiar with the content of both programmes, which puts me in a position where I can now try to develop my practice in other aspects of the work, such as paying more attention to group dynamics, and ‘fine-tuning’ or adapting some of the activities to more precisely meet the needs and learning styles of a particular group. I have a lot of faith in Cedar’s ability to help families, and think it is a programme with many merits (namely, the it’s concurrent nature, and the fact that it is ‘psycho-educational’). Most importantly, I think CEDAR creates a safe environment for learning and feeling, where mistakes are permitted and people are valued, and this, in my opinion, greatly benefits service-users and facilitators alike.
Edinburgh Cedar Facilitator