Sue Bronson M.S. is a mediator, trainer, and psychotherapist in private practice in Milwaukee, WI since 1983 mediating family, elder, workplace, and other disputes. Sue has over thirty years mediation experience helping people engage in quality conversations. Sue Bronson teaches mediation at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee School of Continuing Education. Sue currently is the Co-Chair of the ACR Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination. Her national leadership includes being a charter member of the Wisconsin Association of Mediators, serving on the Academy of Family Mediators board, Past Chair of the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) Family Section and Past Co-Chair of the ACR Elder Section. Currently, Sue serves as a committee chair on the American Bar Association Task Force on Elder Abuse Screening Tool for Elder Mediators.
It Doesn’t Have to be This Way: Intervening in High Conflict Family Dynamics
Linda Fieldstone, M.Ed., former Supervisor of Family Court Services for the 11th Judicial Circuit, Florida, Miami-Dade County, Florida. Leadership roles include past President of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC); past President of its Florida Chapter (FLAFCC); Secretary of the AFCC Task Force on Parenting Coordination 2005 and on Task Force to update standards; Florida Supreme Court Rules and Policies Committee. She is involved in research, training, and consultation internationally and has written articles on high conflict families, family court services, empirically based parenting plans and parenting/eldercaring coordination. Ms. Fieldstone is currently Co-Chair of the ACR and FLAFCC Elder Justice Initiatives on Eldercaring Coordination and servicing the community through Family Resolutions, LLC, to provide conflict resolution opportunities directly to families of all ages before, during or after court actions.
Dr. Yamout is a Licensed Psychologist board certified in Clinical Neuropsychology. He specializes in neuropsychological assessment of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral changes. His primary focus is evaluating individuals experiencing memory and other cognitive changes due to aging, stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other conditions that affect the brain. Dr. Yamout uses evaluation results to inform treatment options and to help ageing persons and their families cater communication and interpersonal dynamics to the ageing person’s needs. Dr. Yamout has been working with the Carter Psychology Center since 2011, after completing training in Neuropsychology at the Alzheimer ’s disease Research Center of the University of California in Davis, the Neuropsychology Service of the Kansas University School of Medicine, and the Cognitive Neurology Clinic of the Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Yamout is an Eldercaring Coordinator and was a trainer at the Eldercaring Coordination training for the State of Florida.
High conflict family dynamics become a health issue for ageing persons, intensifying physical, psychological and cognitive challenges. However, until recently, there were no court connected efforts to address this issue. To respond to this critical situation, the Elder Justice Initiative on Eldercaring Coordination developed a dispute resolution process for families when conflict impacts the autonomy, care and safety of ageing persons. In these cases, conflict is driving the family relationships and interpersonal interactions, including cross allegations, inconsistencies, and entrenchment. This innovative process reduces conflict by addressing the personal agendas of family members, refocusing them on the voice of their ageing loved one.
Workshop attendees will be able: to define “eldercaring coordination”; demonstrate the need for this new process; and detail its benefits for ageing persons and their families. Attendees will participate in an interactive exercise to personalize the experience of the ageing process in the midst of a familial tug-of-war. The transitions of ageing are made even more difficult, confusing and depleting as family conflict increases, exhausting the ageing person’s coping mechanisms. The group will then discuss their reactions to better understand how small choices may have big effects, and to explore disconnection between intention and consequences, including the possible motivations of family members from their own limited perspectives. The Eldercaring Coordinator’s court ordered role is to help transform families’ intractable conflict and create cognitive shifts that promote better outcomes for both ageing persons and their families.
Eldercaring Coordinators do not make decisions on core legal issues; they help to move the family forward with process decisions and are able to intervene quickly when new concerns or disputes arise to address nonlegal issues outside of the court. Eldercaring Coordination helps families work with available resources, while developing an internal support system that strengthens family relationships. Since Eldercaring Coordinators work with each family for a term of up to two years, they are in a better position to monitor situations at risk for abuse, neglect or exploitation.
Eldercaring Coordinators consider ageing persons’ capacity throughout the eldercaring coordinating process and safeguard the self-determination of the ageing person to the extent possible. They distinguish between ageing persons’ disengagement versus their inability to participate, make accommodations to improve capacity when possible, and understand and incorporate the ageing person’s wishes. By engaging reluctant participants and containing acting out behaviors of others, decision-makers and those affected set goals and priorities for the care and safety of the ageing person together. Sometimes guardianships may be limited or even avoided, as family members cooperate and assume the responsibility for needed actions on behalf of the ageing person. If capacity issues limit participation, the ageing person’s voice is still brought to the table for all to hear. Underlying concepts of this unique conflict resolution process are trauma-informed care, mindfulness, and person-centered, strength based interventions.
This workshop will be of interest to administrators of organizational, agency and court programs; guardians and legal decision-makers, attorneys and legal programs for the aged; direct caregivers, conflict resolution providers, advocates and Councils on Aging.