Welcome - European Network on Family Group Conference

Democratizing help and welfare in Europe
Privately experiencing an Eigen Kracht-conference as a social worker

In the Netherlands, over 10,000 plans have been crafted with the help of Eigen Kracht-conferences since the year 2000. Because of this, I sometimes meet people outside of my line of work that have experienced a conference. It also happens that a social worker requests their first conference because he or she themselves attended a conference privately. The latter happened recently.

‘My foster sister started drinking at fourteen,’ the social worker told me, ‘at parties she was always the first to be completely wasted and I have even caught her drinking at school. Back then it was easy for a teen to get their hands on alcohol. At eighteen she moved away to her place of birth. We heard nothing from her for years until my brother ran into her in Amsterdam. She was very confused. She recognized him immediately and started spewing a stream of incoherent stories at him. When my brother asked her where she lived and whether she wanted to remain in contact, she ran off. You must understand that this shocked us deeply.’

Think along?
‘Less than a year later my parents received a phone call from someone who approached them at the request of my sister. She had been admitted into a mental health clinic to get clean and to receive treatment for psychoses. She wanted to make a plan for when she would be allowed to return home and was she was hoping that my parents and perhaps her foster brothers would want to help and think along in crafting a plan for her. This Eigen Kracht-coordinator came all the way to the East to explain to us how it worked and what was expected of us. Of course we wanted to help.’

‘Before the conference, my parents called my foster sister. My brother and I saw and spoke to her again for the first time since she had left during the conference. Beforehand we thought we would be of little help: all we could do was talk about how she used to be, what she liked to do, what she was good and less good at. This little, personal bit of information, however, turned out to be very meaningful. It helped in structuring her days and choosing a future education. Since the conference, contact with my sister has diluted again; my parents talk to her every once in a while. Her life has become much more stable. It was very special to be a part of that change.’


A story from The Netherlands

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