For professionals

All professionals who work with children need specialised training. Teachers, Counsellors, Social Workers, Family Lawyers, Psychologists, Family Court Judges and others all need to have a strong understanding of the impact of family breakdown on children and of how children may behave as a result. This includes a specialised understanding of how all forms of abuse and family violence manifest themselves in the behaviour of children and adults.

We encourage you to explore this whole site and look at all the forms of evidence we present that help us make better decisions: conclusions from the latest, best scientific research; lessons that art and media can teach us; and what children and young people say about their own experiences.

Early intervention and support from well-trained professionals can make all the difference. Professional accountability must also be integral to all organisations involved with children.

We will be expanding this Help for Professionals page considerably over the coming year and we would welcome your input, feedback and additional recommendations. Thank you.

Members of all professions who work with children and families, welcome! 

Please take a minute before you look for resources that may help you: Two Wishes needs your help – professionals and policy makers of every kind – to help us change the way the world thinks about the needs of children and families who separate.

You can see that Two Wishes campaigns for families and professionals to Get Help that is constructive, healing and much earlier than it often is just now. Family separation is a matter of health; it is not served well by legal systems.

As things are just now, the main way we treat troubled separating families is like we’re dealing very badly with cancer. We wait until the cancer reaches the last stages of spread. It’s too late for cure, So surgical amputation is all that’s on offer. Worse than that, because a legal system is just not designed to help like a health service is, it doesn’t do what health systems do. It cannot do joined-up prevention, help and early intervention (as any health service does). It also does not do reliable assessment, formulation or therapeutic treatment nor data collection, follow-up or research on outcome and what works. So, belated amputations are done when they needn’t be. And amputations are not done that – at this late stage – may be needed. ‘Cancer’ and ‘amputation’ are not strong enough images for how serious this is. Crude amputation of family relationships is arguably much worse than amputating parts of the body.

On the way to Get Help, professionals need to learn why family separation can be such a stressful challenge that can easily go badly wrong for children especially. The principles are more important for an international organisation to focus on, since it’s hard to provide specific guidance for all the wide range of professionals and helpers and to do it world-wide for every locality .

Protecting the essential family process of repair

In her TEDx talk, Dr Sue Whitcombe shows what children need is for ‘good enough’ parents, not perfect ones. Mistakes temporarily rupture the attachment that a ‘good enough’ parent gets repaired quickly so that healthy development goes on. Sue shows how separated parents can easily disrupt that reparation. This is a vivid picture of the ‘good enough’ parenting children most need to be supported by both their separated parents.

BIFF: A quick practical introduction

Standing for Brief, Informative, Friendly and Firm, Bill Eddy and his colleagues have built up a substantial body of work that’s worth finding out about, if you’re not already familiar with it. Though written for parents, Bill Eddy’s latest book is also a quick way for professionals to get a handle on how parents can experience and deal with family breakdown. The added bonus is that it’s mainly about a useful way for co-parents to make things work constructively and to avoid them becoming malignant ‘cancers’. So, the book is also generally good advice for professionals to give parents.

Kidpower: Empowering adults to empower kids

Whether you’re setting up services for kids, or directly providing them, this short video emphasises how prevention is so much better than crisis-intervention.

Early Intervention Foundation

Most countries will be developing this kind of umbrella organisation: Early Intervention Foundation (in the UK). EIF helps helpers find the research and best practice, to learn about how to help, to develop good services, and guide families to find their way to get the help they need effectively.

There is lots more on the EIF website. For example, research on what works to enhance inter-parental relationships under stress. It shows the common pathway that affects kids most. The relationship of the parents’ stresses in combination is what affects their children’s well-being. That typically happens most before and after parents separate.

Looking for local resources

In your own country and locality, professional services should know how to point people to a range of good services for them. For example, in Australia, here’s the list on Hey Sigmund: