Asking About Housing Quality

Posted on December 20, 2009. Filed under: Family Therapy, Housing Quality, Public Health | Tags: , , , , |

Family therapists ask many questions about family composition (blood and fictive kin) and the quality of these familial relationships.  One significant question that gets overlooked during intake or throughout therapy sessions is the quality of a family’s housing.  This might be related to some of the social taboos of asking people about the quality of their living quarters but this should not deter family therapists about asking about the quality of a family’s housing.  According the Center for Disease Control and Prevention healthy housing is key in understanding the health status of family members (CDC Healthy Housing Executive Summary).  This makes a lot of sense when you think about the variety of environmental issues that can affect the quality of housing.  Some of these issues include toxic chemicals, pests, waterborn diseases, noise, crowding, and indoor pollution.  And this is just a partial list of how housing could affect a person’s health.

To begin the conversation about housing, family therapists should directly state why this information is important.  The quality of one’s housing is directly tied to one’s health, physical and mental Thus it is important to understand where the family lives.  You are not there to judge them but to help them and understanding the context of their lives, which includes housing.  There are a number of areas that should be explored (e.g., Housing Structure, Indoor Pollution and Toxic Materials, Water Quality, Environmental/Neighborhood Pollution, Housing Safety).  These different areas with questions will be explored in future posts.

If you include Housing Quality as part of your therapy, let me know how you do it.  If you do not, what prevents you from exploring this issue?  For further information, please visit the CDC and the Health Housing Manual at CDC Health Housing Manual

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