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Assessing the unspeakable:Risk, denial and acknowledgment in high risk parents


Quaker Meeting House, Oxford – UK


Different professionals are asked to assess future risk of harm in parents who have already injured their children badly. These parents may be unable to acknowledge what they have done or put it into words. In this seminar we explore how we can assess risk in such parents; what evidence we can draw on; and how to listen to people who have carried out actions that are literally ‘unspeakable’. We explore the several ways in which denial manifests in the narratives of parents who have harmed their children, discuss how we might understand the relationship between denial and risk and outline, with illustration, ways in which a parent’s capacity to acknowledge risk and harm can be assessed; and how the voice of the parent can be heard and listened to. We will draw on research as well as clinical material. We invite participation from lawyers, social workers, mental health professionals, psychotherapists and parents. Speakers include Rebecca Lawday, Gerry Byrne and Anna Motz, Amanda Jones and Louise Howard. The day will be facilitated by Gwen Adshead.


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