Stories of Hope

Family mapping, is a ‘roadmap’ to repairing relationships and problem solving

April 02, 2020

The YouBelongHome unique FAMILY NETWORK MAPPING PROCESS enables the YBH team to help the service user and their family understand the relationship patterns that exist in the family dynamic. Through critical analysis of the relationships, family mapping helps the team identify some behaviours that hinder a service user’s recovery. Mapping involves the independent development of two maps. Firstly, with the active participation of the person being assessed in the pre discharge process, the service user identifies the people who are important to them, how they feel about them and how they relate to them. They also get to mention those with whom they experience conflict. Secondly, the team works with the family separately, to produce their own version of their family map. The team then compares and analyses the two maps and this valuable information assists the team in designing an individualised empowerment plan for the service user and their family, in the post discharge process.

Robinah’s mother is guided by the YouBelong worker to draw her family map

‘Robinah’ is 32 years old and she is recovering from an alcohol use disorder comorbid HIV, (with visual and auditory hallucinations), that she has battled with for over ten years. Her mother informed the YBH team that she had tried ‘all’ remedies but her daughter had failed to stop using alcohol.“We have tried the churches, mosques, traditional healers, and local herbs. Our last resort was the hospital but to my surprise, when Robinah was discharged from her first admission, she started drinking alcohol on her first day at home”.Robinah’s mother informed us that despite trying so hard for her daughter to recover, she still does not know why her daughter started using alcohol as soon as she was discharged, and Robinah herself seemed to have no understanding of her behaviour in restarting alcohol abuse.

Robinah and her family were involved in the family mapping process to understand her relationship patterns. One difference that stood out between Robinah’s map and that of her family was that Robinah did not place on the map her 11 years old daughter, while her family did place her in a significant position on their map. The team’s immediate reaction was drawn to this stark omission. This difference prompted the team to make a deep assessment about the relationship between Robinah and her daughter.

In our discussion with Robinah, she became very angry and her eyes became teary, and it is then that we learnt that during her pregnancy (at the age of 20yrs) that she was disowned by her father, who also sent her away from his home because he could not handle the embarrassment of having a daughter becoming pregnant before marriage. Robinah was rejected by everyone she trusted, including the man who got her pregnant. Robinah said that she started to drink alcohol in this period. Robinah had not opened up about this issue until this family mapping stage of the assessment. She said that she hates her daughter because she reminds her of the past experiences.

From Robinah’s story, we could trace that the alcohol use was partly to cope with the stress and rejection that she experienced during her pregnancy. The YBH team was able to design an empowerment plan which involved working with her family to support her emotional distress, the cause of which had not been recognised. The family was also able to understand what contributed to the alcohol use and the YBH team guided them on how to support the service user to recovery. The YBH team also found it important to empower this family with problem solving skills. The family dynamic is settling down, and Robinah is in a positive recovery process.