Thursday 4 July 2019

Sabine Vermeire

Sometimes children grow up in multistressed families, where they experience violence, abuse or trauma. They can get caught up in difficulties and become overwhelmed  by negative emotions, often exhibiting  problematic behavior. In such cases a whole range of social services and child protection centers may become involved and often diagnoses such as ‘attachment disorder’ or ‘insecure attachment’ pop up.

Despite all the efforts and attempts to solve the problems, to change the situation or even to remove the child from its home, some of these children and youngsters keep getting stuck. As soon as the child, his or her family or important others enter the therapy room, it gets filled with tensions, frustrations and feelings of powerlessness.

In collaboration with the child and its family we explore some playful ways to bring stories of belonging to the foreground and try to create richer meanings about the problems, about each other and about valued relationships. In doing so, we try to promote ‘a sense of personal and relational agency’ and develop more livable and hopeful narratives adding to the child’s and their family’s skills and knowledge.I will illustrate this using film, letters and documents.

Sabine Vermeire is member of the staff at the Interactie-Academie VZW, a training and therapy center in Antwerp, Belgium  (

She works as a trainer, psychotherapist and supervisor in Systemic, Narrative and Collaborative Therapy at this institute. Her expertise is on children, youngsters and families in difficult contexts (attachment problems, violence, abuse, psychiatric problems and trauma) and working in creative ways when speaking becomes difficult.

(keynote at the Conference of Narrative Therapy and Community work in Brighton 2017)