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FASD Caregiver Group

A FASD GROUP FOR TIRED CAREGIVERS! Get excited!

We are very excited to announce our first formal FASD caregivers group, right here in St. Thomas, Ontario.

The FASD Caregivers Group is a 6 week, highly structured and supportive group, for caregivers. Birth parents, foster parents, adoptive parents, kin, grandparents, neighbours, teachers, and other humans….if you’re caring for a child with suspected or diagnosed FASD and you’re struggling to find solutions that work, you’re in the right place!

The group will be small so that we can provide maximum education and support while getting to know each other. It will run Tuesday mornings from 10 AM until 12 PM at our offices at 15 St. Catharine Street, St. Thomas (Lower Level).

We know it’s next to impossible to find services or even answers when trying to understand and help children with FASD. So we wanted to make this as simple as possible. No need for a referral. No hoops to jump through. No complex application forms. Heck, your little one (or big one) doesn’t even need a formal diagnosis. Just a reasonable suspicion that he or she may have been exposed to alcohol in utero. We’ll take your word for it. Because we want to help, not give you more to do.

FAQ

Do I have to have legal guardianship/custody of my child to attend?

Nope. You can be a foster parent, step mother, concerned aunt, teacher, or a regular parent type.

Does my child need to have a formal diagnosis?

Again, nope. We want to make strategies and resources available for all caregivers and children. A diagnosis doesn’t change how we work with kids with symptoms.

Can I bring my child to the group?

As much as we’d love to meet your sweetie, this is adult only time. Which means you’ll get to finish your coffee and probably remain sitting for more than .07 seconds.

What is the cost?

The cost for the entire six weeks is $200 per caregiver including all materials shared in class/group. Couples attending together are $375 because we really encourage both parents to attend if at all possible.

I’m uncomfortable in groups. Do I have to talk about my feelings or share stories?

Heck, no. You do you. While there is a supportive component to the group and we encourage connections both at the group and afterwards, the focus of the group is on education, resources, and tools. There will be lots of time to ask questions, or seek support for specific examples of behaviours, but our focus for the six weeks is on education. And there’s a lot to teach! We’re not going to be doing group activities or uncomfortable “get to know you” activities. #noworriesintroverts

Who’s running this group? I don’t need to hear another professional telling me that I’m the problem or making me feel like crap about my parenting. Or some social worker that doesn’t even have kids.

Jenna Hill is a foster parent, clinician, and the foster/grandparent to two little boys with FASD. She worked in child welfare for 18 years before burning all of her bridges and starting her own practice. She also teaches college courses in counselling techniques and law. Recognizing that there is very limited help for families raising children with FASD in Southern Ontario, she developed her own practice and protocol to assist other families to manage FASD symptoms differently. She is not well loved, by either the child welfare system or the school system, because’s mouthy as heck and has fought hard for her grandsons and other children to be supported in ways that have not been recognized by standard systems and practices in Ontario. So you’re definitely not going to be shamed or blamed or told you’re the problem. The problem is alcohol exposure in utero that creates a lifelong disability for your child. You’re going to be given solid information about FASD, symptoms and behaviours, and ideas to help your family run smoother. And probably coffee and a shoulder to cry on. Because this is really freaking hard!

Where is the group located? Do I have to live in St. Thomas to attend?

This group will be held at our St. Thomas office in the lower level of 15 St. Catherine St. The office is, unfortunately, not wheel chair friendly and there are approximately 7 stairs down to the space. There is paid parking next door should the free parking lot be filled.

You can live pretty much anywhere you want and still attend our group. There is no residency restriction.

Are there any additional costs?

Nope. No books to buy. No fancy tools or equipment. We’ll even provide the coffee. (Word of warning, Jenna makes really bad coffee. Volunteers to make coffee are always welcome!) You’ll be provided with a folder for handouts because we know it’s hard to stay organized when you’re juggling all the things. We even supply pens and papers.

How do I register and pay?

Give us a call and we’ll get you signed up. You can pay by email transfer or Paypal (where you can use a credit card, if you’d prefer). The fee must be paid in full prior to the group beginning. Receipts are provided along with a certificate of completion at the end of the six weeks.

If you don’t know much about PayPal, here’s a quick link to explain how it works.

If you don’t know how email transfer works, here’s a link to explain how it works.

Where’s the fine print?

Glad you asked. There isn’t any. We do reserve the right to cancel the group if there are not enough participants. We need a maximum of 10 people to run the group and we cap it at 16 participants. Your payment will be refunded in full, should we need to cancel and we can add you to the wait list for the next session, if you’d like.

If you register and decide you can’t attend, you will be refunded the full amount up to two weeks prior to the group starting. There are no refunds for cancellations after March 4, 2019.

5 Really Good Reasons To Go To Counselling

Does anyone really need a reason to go to counselling or try out some talk therapy? Probably not. But in case you’re on the fence about whether or not to give counselling a try, here are a few really good reasons to make the leap.

 

1. YOU’VE LOST YOUR PURPOSE

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Remember when you knew exactly what you wanted to do and went out and did it? If that feeling wasn’t one you felt this morning, or yesterday, and you can’t remember when you felt good about your day, you may have lost your purpose. Sometimes, in the business of life, we lose sight of why we do what we do and we’re left wondering if this is all there is. Or why we should even bother. Sound familiar?

It’s easy to be excited about life when you’re young and fresh and just starting out. I was so focused in university and grad school. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and why. Fast forward 20 years later and I wasn’t so sure anymore. I had achieved all of my goals and yet I was grumpy and kind of lost. Cue the phone call to a therapist. (Yes, therapists also go to therapy because we believe in the process and know it works.) A few weeks later and I found my purpose once again. It looked nothing like my original purpose 20 years ago and that’s perfectly fine. Changing lanes is cool. Therapy can help with that.

 

2. YOU FEEL OUT OF CONTROL

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Whether it’s at work, at home, or in your relationships with others, you feel kind of like you’re losing control. Maybe you’re snappy and cranky with your kids or partner. Maybe you’re overwhelmed at work or with life in general and you feel like everything’s sliding. Maybe that wine club you joined isn’t just for fun anymore and you’re gobbling the leftovers like a dog let loose at the Christmas table. Regardless of what’s going on, if you’re feeling like you’ve lost control of life, the situation, or your personal self control, therapy is a good idea to help gain perspective and make positive life changes. Feeling in control of your life and of your choices really is the best feeling ever.

 

3. YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVING FEELING

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Relationships can feel stagnant and stuck, particularly when we have kids and lead busy lives. If you’ve ever looked at your partner and wondered what happened, or felt like somethings missing in your relationship, couples counselling is a great idea. If your partner isn’t sure, it’s okay to come alone in the beginning to explore where these feelings, or lack of feelings, have come from and get some ideas for putting the relationship back on the front burner.

Sometimes there are big things, like infidelity, or problems with the kids and counselling makes perfect sense in these situations. But a lot of the time, there’s nothing you can really put your finger on. Maybe you argue about the same old things and nothing ever gets resolved. Maybe he’s begun to feel like a stranger. Maybe she’s never home and when she is she doesn’t have much to say. And maybe you’re just in the rut of raising kids and have forgotten that you two came first.

 

4. YOUR FAMILY IS CHANGING

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Maybe you’re coping with a separation or pending divorce. Maybe you’ve met someone new and it’s getting serious but you’re worried about how things will go with your children from your previous relationship. Maybe your kids have entered that fun phase known as teenagers and you have no idea where your sweet little girl went and why she hates you all of a sudden.

Or maybe you’ve just had your first baby (or 4th) and it’s nothing like you’d expected it to be. Why are you so freaking tired? When did you last shower? Where is this maternal glow that everyone is talking about? Because while everyone else seems to be glowing away you’ve got a funky little stain on your shirt and you can’t remember when it got there or where or when you’ll be able to do laundry again.

Parents back in the dating pool? A little bit of “where is this going” counselling is a great way to help you two figure things out around issues like living together, remarriage, step-parenting, dealing with his or her kids, different parenting styles, and managing the exes.

Family counselling is great for getting everyone at the table to work on issues that families face. It’s a safe place where all members can speak freely and have their voices heard and begin to make changes that growing families sometimes need to make. If you’re stuck trying to figure out things like boundaries, rules, and structure, counselling is a great way to work through those things.

And for tired new moms, it’s exactly the place to figure out your new normal.

 

5. YOU KEEP REPEATING THE SAME OLD PATTERNS

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If you find yourself repeating similar patterns and old mistakes, counselling is a great place to explore the whys and hows of breaking the old ways of doing things and learning new ways to live better. Clues that you’re repeating old patterns come up when you start notice that all of your relationships have similar patterns. or that your new partner is a lot like your ex. Or you’ve started a new job but you’re having the same problems as you did in your last workplace. This is where counselling can help. You can learn where this pattern started, why you keep repeating it, and how to get unstuck. Counselling will give you a safe place to talk about and explore what’s really going on and how to move forward without constantly paddling in circles and wondering how to make things different.

 

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