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Four Questions for Friendship Talk: How are you affected by COVID-19?

I have found in my small bubble that people want to talk COVID-19, restrictions, health and economic issues and I understand the reason why… but it feels like the same conversation with a different slant because everyone has their opinion or subjective reality and this often depends on how adversely affected they are.

I started asking people to be real and asked the following questions, so I could really see how people (friends, family and work colleagues) were really managing instead of them saying “we are fine”… I have shared the four friendship questions I am asking of people:

Four Questions for Friendship Talk:

  1. What have you found the hardest in this crisis?
  2. What have you found as a positive in the current climate?
  3. Have you learnt something about yourself that surprised you?
  4. What are you most looking forward to once restrictions are lifted?

We have asked our children the same questions… and the responses were heartwarming as they are really looking forward to family get togethers and our next Australian family holiday together – we thought they would say seeing their friends or sport!

So how are you? If you are too busy to answer no pressure, but we’re here to listen to your responses if you can…

Take care and be safe, and be kind to those closest to you.

Robyn Donnelly
Coordinator – Marriage and Relationship Education CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning
MAREAA Membership Coordinator, NSW State Representative
Email Robyn.Donnelly@mn.catholic.org.au

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you are going in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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How are you affected by COVID-19? Four Questions for Friendship Talk

I have found in my small bubble that people want to talk about COVID-19 restrictions, health and economic issues and I understand the reason why… but it feels like the same conversation with a different slant because everyone has their opinion or subjective reality and it depends on how adversely affected they are.

So I started asking people to be real and asked the following questions, so I could see how people (friends, family and work colleagues) were really managing instead of them saying “we are fine, or just good”… Here I share the four friendship talk questions I am asking of people:

Four Questions for Friendship Talk:

  • What have you found the hardest in this crisis?
  • What have you found as a positive in the current climate?
  • Have you learnt something about yourself that surprised you?
  • What are you most looking forward to once restrictions are lifted?

We asked our children the same questions… and the responses were heartwarming. They were looking forward to our family reunion and our next Australian family holiday together – when we thought they would say, seeing their mates at the pub or sport!

If you are too busy to answer no pressure, but I’m here to listen to your responses if you can…

Robyn Donnelly
Coordinator – Marriage and Relationship Education CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning
MAREAA Membership Coordinator, NSW State Representative
Email  Robyn.Donnelly@mn.catholic.org.au

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you plan to deliver your services in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

working with couples online
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Welcome to our new world and lifestyle of living with restrictions due to COVID-19

I am sure you are finding your personal and work life has changed considerably. I must admit and share that it is a lifestyle I am not enjoying for many reasons – I’m an extrovert, I love people and relationships, I love coffee catch-ups, dinner parties, boot camp and fitness, book club, dining out and travel.

Life has changed. I am missing my face-to-face sessions and workshops, and for the first time in my career of 24 years, I’m now working from home to plan how to work without my clients in the room. We are currently caring for our elderly parents and we miss our boys who are separated from us, and due to the health crisis, our bubble has shrunk considerably.

Recently I reflected on how I was managing and how we were going. My relationship with my husband is based on my work, we use all possible relationship research day in-day out (we try to talk the talk and walk the walk), so I thought about what were we using and relying on most to stay connected with each other especially since we are living in each other’s pockets. Here are my top three and one that I need to work on:

  1. Appreciation: We are really trying to appreciate and thank each other verbally for the little things we notice. It’s easy to get frustrated and highlight what we are doing wrong when we are stressed (Gottman’s level 2 Sound Relationship House [SRH] – Fondness and Appreciation);
  2. Be Grateful: When I get anxious or overwhelmed by negativity and media hype, I write a list of all the things we have and are grateful for and re-read it or read it to each other (Gottman Level 4 SRH – Positive Perspective). We recall all the great times we have had in our relationship and what we are looking forward to post the restrictions;
  3.  Repair and Dialogue: We use more use of Repair & Dialogue (explaining our position – Gottman Level 5 SRH), so you hear a lot more of “I’m so sorry”, “I didn’t mean to say it like that”, or “that came out all wrong way”; and
  4. Subjective Reality: There are also many things I could be doing better, so I need to improve on thinking that my opinion or position is “subjective”  (Gottman’s SRH Level 5 – Subjective Reality). I’m not great at this at present as I’m out of my comfort zone and anxious about where this will end up.

If you are interested in sharing:

  • What are you currently doing or using in your relationships that you present or share with your clients in session? and;
  • What is something you present to your clients, that you are not currently doing yourself, that you could work on?

Take care and be safe, and be kind to those closest to you.

Robyn Donnelly
Coordinator – Marriage and Relationship Education CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning
MAREAA Membership Coordinator, NSW State Representative
Email Robyn.Donnelly@mn.catholic.org.au

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you plan to deliver your services in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

Suggested Ground Rules for Online Group Sessions
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Suggested Ground Rules for Online Group Sessions

The need for relationship education is escalating, service access is becoming more limited because of the increased lock-down and social isolation. Providers of support services must adjust to the conditions and search for innovative ways of working, to help those facing adversity – from the comfort of their own homes.

Group Programs lends themselves well to an online format, as they allow for a combination of teaching, demonstrating and discussion. Facilitated via Teleconference, couples can still learn from each other, however because much of the information is personal to each couple, the online experience can create positive tension. This sharing and learning together can help build a sense of community… even while online.

The following guide can help you work with couples online:

  1. Setting up the Meeting: Teleconferencing and videoconferencing are easy and effective tools, but there are often issues. Ensure you test your audio and visual technology prior to meeting and dial in early and be ready to deal confidently with issues the couples may have with their technology.

    Body language is important. Ensure you can see both couples. If they are in the same location, you need to be able to view both couples from waist up. Ask the couple to adjust their camera to assist with this. If they are both remote, same story, you want to be able to see them from their waist up – they can then also see each other clearly and their body language.

    Ask if they have removed distractions in their home. If possible, other family members, children, pets. Tell them that it is important that you have their full attention for the duration of the call. If another time is better, rescheduling to a time when they are both ready is important.
  2. Environment – safe, confidentiality (limits to confidentiality): As you would normally do, explain that the discussion is confidential and discuss the limits to confidentiality, such as if there is disclosure that someone is at risk of harm. Ensure the couple feel comfortable and safe, establishing an environment where topics can be discussed openly.
  3. Build rapport with couples – establish a relationship: Building rapport with couples online can be hard, but it is important to speak to each couple and to share that focus equally. Introduce yourself and start to get to know each couple. For example, ask the couple how they met; how long they have been together; what drew them to each other; what they hope to get out of the session.
  4. Share relevant information and praise feedback: Give each couple praise for taking intentional time out to focus on their relationship. Always seek to identify and always emphasise the positive aspects of their relationship throughout the discussion.
     
  5. Do they have any questions? Any reservations? Explore these and use examples of where the process will assist to explore these issues. Use an ice-breaker exercise to emphasise this.
  6. Explain the process: Summarise the process and topics that will be discussed. Explain that you are keen to understand each couple and where the ‘edges’ are between them as a couple. Emphasise that the process is one of developing awareness and learning new skills.

With online facilitation, most of the same rules apply but it can often be harder to build rapport and really connect with couples. From setting up your technology (and the couples) through to developing awareness, learning new skills and working through exercises.

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you plan to deliver your services in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf

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Helping couples strengthen their relationship remotely: A guide to working with couples online

As many organisations close their doors, schools close and public places deserted, many of us are forced to remain home and practice social distancing. With that, anxiety levels rise, fuses become shorter and frustration prevails – our routines are turned upside down and additional stress is placed on relationships and families leading to spikes in demand for family and relationship services.

The need for relationship education is escalating, service access is becoming more limited because of the increased lock-down and social isolation. Providers of support services must adjust to the conditions and search for innovative ways of working, to help those facing adversity – from the comfort of their own homes.

The following guide can help you work with couples online:

  1. Setting up the Meeting: Teleconferencing and videoconferencing are easy and effective tools, but there are often issues. Ensure you test your audio and visual technology prior to meeting and dial in early and be ready to deal confidently with issues the couples may have with their technology.

    Body language is important. Ensure you can see both couples. If they are in the same location, you need to be able to view both couples from waist up. Ask the couple to adjust their camera to assist with this. If they are both remote, same story, you want to be able to see them from their waist up – they can then also see each other clearly and their body language.

    Ask if they have removed distractions in their home. If possible, other family members, children, pets. Tell them that it is important that you have their full attention for the duration of the call. If another time is better, rescheduling to a time when they are both ready is important.
  2. Environment – safe, confidentiality (limits to confidentiality): Explain that the discussion is confidential and discuss the limits to confidentiality, such as if there is disclosure that someone is at risk of harm. Ensure the couple feel comfortable and safe, establishing an environment where topics can be discussed openly.
  3. Build rapport with couple – establish a relationship: Building rapport with the couple is crucial. Introduce yourself and start to get to know the couple. For example, ask the couple how they met; how long they have been together; what drew them to each other.
  4. Share relevant information: Give the couple praise for taking intentional time out to focus on their relationship. Always seek to identify and emphasise the positive aspects of their relationship. 
  5. Do they have any questions? Any reservations? Explore these and use examples of where the process will assist to explore these issues. Use an ice-breaker exercise to emphasise this.
  6. Explain the process: Summarise the process and topics that will be discussed. Explain that you are keen to understand each couple and where the ‘edges’ are between them as a couple. Emphasise that the process is one of developing awareness and learning new skills.

With online facilitation, most of the same rules apply but it can often be harder to build rapport and really connect with couples. From setting up your technology (and the couples) through to developing awareness, learning new skills and working through exercises.

Read on for various resources to assist you at this time. Finally, please let us know how you plan to deliver your services in these challenging times. 

For more information on the virus and the steps that can be taken to minimise its impact, visit the Australian Government Department of Health website.

Marriage and Relationship Education is a learning opportunity, much like you would do in any other important life event. Check out the video for couples on YouTube: https://youtu.be/xyuUl-JnIhM.

Tune in next week for more discussion about relationships and mental health. 

Join us at www.mareaa.asn.au or sign up to our Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bRigGf