Close up of Dawn Menken

Relationship Work: In the Family System

with Dawn Menken


Enjoy your video!


Class 1


Class 2


Exercise from Class 1

  1. Describe a family situation with an identified disturber.
    2. What is the atmosphere of the family like?
    3. Play out the disturber role until you find the essence.
    4. How can you craft the essence of the “disturbing” behavior into an intervention for the whole family?

Tips for Working with Power in Families & with Youth

  1. Encourage the one with less power to speak and more power to listen.
  2. Read into people’s roles.
  3. Find the 1% of truth in an accusation.
  4. Encourage disagreement and a variety of views.
  5. Name different kinds of power and how power switches.
  6. Support kids to be powerful.
  7. Help parents and kids to model genuine emotion and flexibility.
  8. Find the dreaming reality in a lie.

Relationships in Families are complex



Relationship Work in the Family System

In this course, we will look closely at common issues that arise when working with families. Some learning areas we will address include:

  • Interacting with young children
  • Interacting with teens
  • When relationship problems are family issues
  • Couple issues and modelling conflict work in the family
  • Engaging the facilitator role in the family

Family work means improving communication by supporting all members to express themselves. Process work with families addresses power issues, uses conflict resolution procedures, and gets beyond the cycle of accusations and blaming. The so-called “identified patient” in the family is seen as doing something potentially valuable that needs better understanding or interaction, and also might reveal something that the whole family might need to embrace. Work with families also means paying attention to the family atmosphere and revealing the various roles and viewpoints that create that atmosphere.

For example, take a family where the atmosphere feels very stiff. Very little is said, except when asked and answers are minimal. It feels almost scary to speak. One can feel that people do not feel free to express themselves. The kids wriggle around trying to keep still. Sitting with such a family, one can feel the disavowed roles or experiences that the family is not in touch with. There is something fearful in the room, individuals fear to speak out. There is also another role, something possibly authoritarian that is against freedom and spontaneous expression. This role might have strong views about how the family should behave, and it might even be threatening and coercive. Working with this family would mean to bring out these background roles and encourage the family to interact with them.

Learn with Dawn, live, get your questions answered, and practice new (and maybe familiar) family facilitation skills! 

The Madness Radio podcast interviewed Dawn about bullying school. You can listen to the episode here. 

About Your Teacher

Dawn Menken


Dawn is the author of “Raising Parents, Raising Kids: Hands-on wisdom for the next generation”.

“I am a visionary dreaming of a world where the emphasis on learning, change, and relationship replace the often moralistic tone of right and wrong, or good and bad. I am for a world where diversity is cherished, both as an external politic as well as an inner experience. The inner practice which cultivates the diversity within each of us is what supports outer change. I dream of schools that inspire curiosity and emphasize the love of learning: schools that teach children how to facilitate conflict and appreciate difference, that create a living social studies in which classrooms are opportunities to discover more about ourselves and the world community.”

Find out more about Dawn and contact her at

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Close up of Dawn Menken

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