Changing perspectives

Olga Múries Cantán

Is it possible to change the way we are working with the disability from a center-based model to a family quality of life approach? Can I do something to improve the practice or the research in the field in my country? Will it be possible for me to help people with disabilities, their parents and siblings to have a better live? What could be my role on the practice? These are just a few questions I was wondering when I came to the Netherlands.

After getting a degree in Psychology, I started working in different disability services. I was interested in working with families and I detected that most of their necessities and desires related to their relative disability, were not taking into consideration in daily practice. I realized that this situation could decrease their family quality of life, so I decided to search for training in the field beyond my country borders.

When I just arrived to collaborate with Disability Studies in Nederland I had a sceptic view about what work in a family quality of life approach means. Influenced by the way the organizations in my country use to work with disability, I had difficulties to understand other interventions in the field; in that case, more dynamic, more flexible and following always the voice from those who had to receive these interventions. The biggest difficulty I figured at first was economic. Usually the lack of resources hinders the progress and that’s why I thought it would be difficult to change the things in my country. I was agreeing with the FQoL approach but I didn’t know how to put it on in the context where I used to work.   

Throughout my internship and thanks to real experiences, visits to organizations, and talks with so many interesting people, I started experiencing an opening process that helped me to relocate myself. It was not easy or even simple. For three years I was working in services and institutions focused only on the disabled person and their needs. The mainstream intervention with them was out of their homes, in specialized centres that have just a few interconnections with the other centres and resources used by the person or its family. So I learned about other manners to work, for example following a transdisciplinary point of view, and I questioned some of my beliefs and ways to conceive the practice. At the beginning I thought it was nearly impossible to change the setting from the centre to the family house but I was determined to look into different possibilities to start the transition from an expertise establish model to another who had the person with disability and his family system as the centre of all practices. The main objective, natural as much as revolutionary, it was to improve their family quality of life.

Resulting from lots of personal and shared reflexion with myself and with people who were walking with me during this journey (people who were at my side and helped me during my time in the Netherlands) I achieved a more open-minded attitude. I was willing to accept changes and differences on the practice and to understand that things and interventions could be applied in multiple forms, even when the economic situation is not the best one in the world.  

Due to all of this, I think that taking practice and also research on disability from a new perspective, without fears and accepting doubt and questions as necessary partners of the knowledge process, it was one of the main goals of my stage at DSiN, and one of the best ways to solve the majority of the questions of my internship. 

Olga Muries is a psychologist from Barcelona interested in Intellectual Disabilities. Working on the field for a few years and, currently (in 2016), studying a Master Degree about Educational Psychology. Olga did her master's internship at DSiN about Family Quality of Life from October to December 2015. Nowadays, her academic and professional interests are related with families and siblings of people with disabilities.