Studies that investigate the experience of parents of looked-after children demonstrate that the removal of children from the home deeply marks the lives of the people involved and that the birth parents feel pain, anger and guilt. This is due to a lack of confidence in the interventions proposed by social services, along with the feeling of not receiving any kind of help. Mutual/self-help groups allow people to share their similar, difficult situations and to develop collaborative, supportive and trustworthy relationships. Following the logic of "helper therapy", each member of the group is at the same time both helper and helpee. This paper presents the experience of a mutual/self-help group with parents whose children are in care, carried out in 2010 within the Child Protection Service of the Municipality of Modena, a city in central-northern Italy. It provides a description of the process of constructing the group and a summary of the main issues that emerged. The group helped participants overcome the barrier between helpers and helpees and increased mutual trust between parents and social workers. Relational Social Work provided the theoretical and methodological framework in which the mutual/self-help group was realized.
- Children in care, Birth parents, Mutual/self-help groups, Relational social work