Family Work Structures

For family work to go well, the community needs to take on its development together. Though it requires substantial resource and commitment, it can help counselors have access to early material that is difficult to get to otherwise, and is a useful part of an individual’s re-emergence plan. Family work is based in strong co-counseling and good relationships in the communities. Parents need to have RC for themselves before they start doing family work. A strong cadre of allies is critical. It is best to start slow, and focus on quality rather than numbers, and make it clear that allies work is for their own reemergence. Thoughtful attention needs to be paid to the needs of people of the global majority, both parents, young people and allies.


Parent support groups need to be going well before family work is really possible.

Special time with a young person, where you help them feel your attention on them while joining them in what they choose to do. Having an ally/coach for the parent during special time has been a great contradiction to parent isolation.

Special time classes: for people who have decided to do special time with a young person on a regular basis, to discharge on what comes up

Classes on family work: a place to work on feelings about parents, special time, play, following a young person’s lead, being able to listen to heavy discharge, working on feelings about boys, girls, young people of different ages, etc.


Family Classes meet with the same families on an ongoing basis. In larger communities they might be designated for different age groups. The class itself meets with an opening and closing circle, lots of play time; all the allies get a mini-session during the class and if possible an hour of ally time after class; parents get minis and a group during the class if possible.

Playdays are one of the major building blocks in family work, when parents groups, allies work, and special time is happening well, led by an approved family work leader.  

Family workshops usually happen after play days, parents work, allies work and special time are going well. Family workshops are long enough that many heavier distresses become available to be worked on and experienced leaders are a necessity.

Specialty playdays or family workshops can assist thinking and liberation work in different constituencies, such as girls, boys, POGM, African Heritage, Chicano, Indigious, Asian, Jewish, adoptive etc.

Adult play days include sessions on early play experience and what has stopped access to play, and adult-adult special time.


  • A family class is held once every 4-5 weeks in a regular ongoing class. This simple organization give adults exposure to family work, and gives young people special time.
  • New babies come to an adult class when they are young and get special time, and people learn about family work as they go.
  • A young people’s class meets every 4-6 weeks with a parents’ support group meeting concurrently.
  • A short young people’s class is held as part of a family class, introducing client and counselor roles early on. People share their experience on a topic of general concern (being scared, feeling left out) then do 1-3 minute minis, with young people paired thoughtfully with other young people, parents or allies.  
  • One parent goes without their child to another parent’s house to help with special time, then swap at another date.   This helps areas build up to a playday when there isn’t the resource for a family class.
  • A number of counselors visit a family in their home, sometimes after a big challenge like a difficult birth, separation or death. If there is enough resource a group offers a mini family workshop for the whole family, making sure all participants get sessions.
  • Several experiences allies join a few families for an overnight, with lots of play, perhaps an emphasis on one gender, then a circle/question time in the morning.
  • Infants in an isolated community are brought to the beginning of class and a family leader video’s over the internet to help counsel the young person. The entire class learns together.
  • Tapes of Tim & Patty talking and/or counseling a baby are viewed, showing that there is this level of resource somewhere in the world.
  • A fundamentals class goes to a playday together, and discharges before and after. This allows people to have access to discharging early childhood material with people are developing co-counseling relationships.
  • An experienced family worker teams up with one or two less experienced family workers and they do special time with a young person and parent together. The team of allies has minis before and after and the newer allies can ask questions from the more experienced ally. This builds the resource.

 Chuck Esser

International Commonality Reference Person for Family Work

Last modified: 2017-07-24 22:34:03+00