S.R. (the family therapist) had in a previous session asked Mrs Nelson to describe ‘All the things I would do if Peter wasn’t a problem’, Mrs Nelson listed many activities including: ‘Develop hobbies; Join a slimming club; Do things with my own and other people’s children, like before; Get dressed up and look good; Go out in the evening; Get closer to my boyfriend [she had recently ended this relationship]; Settle down with him or someone else; Have Allan [the child in care] home; Do without social workers and be a “happy go lucky person” like before.’
S.R.’s letter was as follows:
Dear Mrs Nelson,
I have spent a lot of time thinking very carefully about your situation and consulting with colleagues who are experts. Together we have come to the following conclusions which we feel are important enough to write down for you to study and remember.
We are very touched by how much affection there is between yourself and the children and how protective you are to one another in your family. We are amazed at how you struggle against the odds with Peter and go on seeking advice from social workers and others although it has never worked. We are quite moved that you are prepared to go on trying and failing all the time. We think that this is likely to go on indefinitely and that you will always need help from at least one social worker and as many other people as possible for as long as we can see.