Counselling families in crisis

By Sonia B. Glover

   Single parenting during marriage failure is the focus of a research study being conducted by Dr. Edward Drodge of Memorial's Education Faculty and research assistant Cathy Doyle, a Memorial graduate.
      Mothers who are experiencing a marital or relationship breakdown are participants in the research project, which stemmed from work carried out by Ms. Doyle last year when she completed her master's thesis in educational psychology.
       "I was Cathy's adviser at that time," explained Dr. Drodge. "She developed a model for group counseling with women who are experiencing marital breakdown. Besides assisting these women to cope with their crisis, the group also focuses on how these women could cope with raising children on their own. So that's how we collaborated on this project; Cathy devised the model and now we want to test it." said Dr.  Drodge.
       "After Cathy graduated, her idea or approach to this marital breakdown problem kept circling in my head and I knew that this was something valuable to the community and needed to be looked into further," he added.
       During a recent interview with the Gazette, Ms. Doyle said she has faith in her thesis and is excited about demonstrating the efficacy of this type of group counseling.
       "What often happens is that when the mother or ex©wife is going through this emotional time, sometimes it's not recognized that the kids are going through this too. So, the idea with my model is to get the mothers right in the beginning of the crisis and make the kids a part of the healing, instead of just taking care of the mothers' needs, only to have another crisis down the road dealing with the kids," she explained.
       According to Ms. Doyle, there is no other counseling group in the province like the one she proposed in her thesis. She pointed out that a lot of counseling only concentrates on a divorce of the marriage, not the family unit.
       "When a marriage breakdown occurs you don't have the mom, dad and the kids anymore, now you've got mom and her kids," stressed Ms. Doyle, a proud survivor of marital breakdown. "It's a new family unit that's going to support each other . . . A marriage or relationship breakdown happens to the whole family, not just the mother,"
       In fact, it is Ms. Doyle's personal experience that motivated her to do her thesis on this topic.
       "That is usually what motivates most people. You're interested in things that have affected you personally. I have lived through this and know personally that group counseling works. It worked for me and I know my children have been empowered  and made stronger as a result."
       Dr. Drodge told the Gazette that he sees Ms. Doyle as an expert in this type of study and she will therefore lead the women in the group sessions. Following the sessions, Dr. Drodge will conduct interviews with each woman and evaluate their experience as a member of the group. The collected data will be analyzed to determine the impact the group had on the women.
       There's no doubt in Ms. Doyle's mind that her counselling group will benefit the women who participate.
       " I believe 100 per cent that this group for single mothers in crisis will see them get right back up on their feet again, along with the kids."
       Dr. Drodge agrees. "These women are disempowered by their crisis, so the group helps to empower them again. It puts them more in control and in charge of their own lives and at the same time helps the kids."

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