Monday, March 12, 2012

The FOCUS project: What is it? What is FOCUS for Couples?

FOCUS for Couples
A February 2012 update article in the Navy Medicine Live blog by Kirsten Woodward, Director of the FOCUS project.

What is FOCUS?  "Families Over Coming Under Stress"
Initially as a service for Navy and Marine families initiated by the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED), the "FOCUS Project addresses concerns related to parental combat operational stress injuries and combat-related physical injuries by providing state-of-the-art family resiliency services to military children and families at designated Navy and Marine Corps sites. In 2009, FOCUS Family Resiliency Services have been made available to Army and Air Force families at designated installations through support from the Department of Defense Office of Family Policy."

Where is the FOCUS program available?
In California:  29 Palms, Pendleton, Naval Base Ventura County, Naval Base San Diego on Dolphin Alley, Coronado.
Washington:  Fort Lewis, Whidbey Island
Virginia:  Quantico, Norfolk, Fort Story
North Carolina:  Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point
For more information on programs at bases in Japan, Hawaii, and Mississippi, check out the website.

What is the FOCUS for Couples program?
In the Navy Medicine Live article, Ms. Woodward writes, "One of the key components in FOCUS for Couples is the application of the program’s tool – the 'narrative timeline'. The narrative timeline is a verbal and visual tool that allows couples to describe challenges and stressors individually and within the relationship. Each partner identifies from the same point in time their perspective of the relationship issues and how this is impacting the functioning of the relationship. The visual ability to see each other’s perspective allows for the couple to make meaning out of adversity; normalize distress; clarify confusion and misunderstanding; promote perspective taking and support expression of individual experiences.  Sharing experiences in systematic manner helps partners to make sense of what has been happening to each person and to their relationship. By the application of a narrative timeline allows the couple to improve communication and provide support to one another."

According to the FOCUS website, the program that focuses on active duty spouses helps these wives and husbands learn how to deal, in a healthy way, with their spouse's deployment and transitions to and from deployment.  They mention learning how to talk with their children about the deployed parent in a healthy way:  is dad safe?  when will mommy return?  why can't dad come home for my birthday?  And, the focus of the FOCUS program, how to safely deal with the servicemember if he/she returns with combat stress.

The FOCUS project website.

--Megan

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