Family Connections

What is the Family Connections Programme?

The challenges facing family members and significant others of individuals with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are often of such a magnitude that they can, over time, deplete a person's capacity to cope effectively.

Family Connections (FC) is a 12-week group for family members and significant others of a person with chronic self-harm, suicidality and a diagnosis of BPD, who is or has been involved in a Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Programme.

The FC Programme was developed in the United States by psychologists Perry Hoffman and Alan Fruzzetti with the help of multiple family members and individuals with BPD.

Programme aims

The aims of the programme are to help family members and significant others to:

  • learn about the causes, symptoms and behaviours associated with BPD
  • avail of peer support from others who have had similar experiences
  • gain understanding on emotional regulation
  • develop individual and family skills to support them in being more effective in their interpersonal relationships
  • to look after their own emotional wellbeing

What do Family Connections sessions involve?

The programme is facilitated by individuals trained in Family Connections. It is held for 2 to 2.5 hours one evening per week for 12 weeks.
In each session, participants will have the opportunity to increase their understanding and consider new skills to cope more effectively in response to their loved ones self-destructive behaviours. The skills are discussed and practiced in the session. People have time to ask questions, share experiences and gain some professional and peer support. Informal discussion over a cup of tea or coffee is an integral part of building up support.
Participants will be asked to reflect on the sessions from week to week and are encouraged to practice some of the newly acquired skills.

In order to further refine and enhance the learning of skills for family members/ significant others, and to facilitate the sharing of their learning with extended family and friends, a DVD/ online teaching resource will be made available to all participants involved in the Family Connections Programme. Upon completion of the programme, Family Connections graduates may be invited to attend a monthly graduate group. The aim of the Family Connections graduate group is to provide continual support for family members/ significant others who have completed the Family Connections programme.

How can I join the Family Connections Programme?

Participants on the DBT programme will be asked to nominate family members or significant others to attend Family Connections.
Having discussed the group with their relative/significant other, the DBT participant gives their individual therapist contact details for those nominated to attend Family Connections.

Telephone contact is made by the Family Connections group leaders with nominees to ensure they are happy to attend, and dates and times of group are communicated to them at this time.

For further information about the Family Connections programme that runs in Cork, please view the Family Connections Programme Information leaflet.