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FOCUSing On Helping Military Families
by U.S. Marine Corps Laurie Pearson, Logistics Base Barstow
July 31, 2020

In addition to myriad stressors in the world currently, military service members and their families face unique challenges that Families OverComing Under Stress are eager to assist with aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif.

“Military life comes with a very unique set of challenges,” said LaNell Mayberry, who holds a Master of Arts in Psychology, is an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist, as well as the FOCUS Family Resilience Trainer. “Military families also have a strong set of skills already in place including resourcefulness and resilience. Resilience training helps families to build on their existing strengths. This program provides a skill-building service that is evidence-based and family-centered for military families and couples.”

LaNell Mayberry, the new Families OverComing Under Stress Family Resilience trainer, also holds a Master of Arts in Psychology and is an Marriage and Family associate therapist, stands by a myriad FOCUS information and tools used to help military families aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California on July 7, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Laurie Pearson, Logistics Base Barstow)
LaNell Mayberry, the new Families OverComing Under Stress Family Resilience trainer, also holds a Master of Arts in Psychology and is an Marriage and Family associate therapist, stands by a myriad FOCUS information and tools used to help military families aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, California on July 7, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Laurie Pearson, Logistics Base Barstow)

FOCUS training provides opportunities for families to learn key resilience skills including:

  •  Communication
  • Problem solving
  • Goal setting
  • Emotional regulation
  • Coping with stress and deployment

“These skills can be applied to help families and couples address current challenges as well as help to prepare them for future transitions,” Mayberry said. “Families seek FOCUS services for a variety of reasons such as a desire to improve communication, preparing for an upcoming deployment or reintegration, learning how to problem solve as a family unit, or how to better cope with stress, to name just a few examples of what might bring a family to FOCUS. The great thing about FOCUS is that nothing has to be wrong in order to benefit from participating in the program. It can be implemented as a preventative service!”

FOCUS is a family-resilience training program that teaches skills to help identify and utilize a family’s strengths, while learning new skills that help families overcome specific challenges. The program provides six to eight individual sessions where couples and families can work toward their goals. “The FOCUS program is a free service for active duty military families and couples that is fun, interactive, and personalized to the couple or family that is being served,” Mayberry said. “We also offer family-friendly hours to provide flexible appointment times for busy military families.”

Some of the services provided by FOCUS include the following:
• Family consultations
• Couple or family-level training
• Small group training
• Workshops

“FOCUS Resilience Training is designed to strengthen couples and families in readiness for tomorrow,” Mayberry explained. “The program provides personalized training in the context of each family’s story and individual goals. It teaches families practical skills to help them meet the challenges of military life such as deployments, stress, injury, and other transitions.”

Given current social distancing protocols for the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person sessions are available on an appointment only basis two days per week, but the services remain fully available through a video teleconferencing format using TeleFOCUS services.

The consultations offer education to community providers and partners, as well as to parents and couples. These services provide guidance and professional expertise on a specific topic surrounding the impact of military life on the family.

“The Skill Building Groups provide an introduction to the key skills taught in FOCUS resilience training,” Mayberry said. “These interactive groups are generally 90 minutes in length. The target audience can be flexible from military member participation, to parents, families, or children in specific age groups.”

Educational workshops generally cover a specific topic, such as individual or Unit-level stress management or developmental reactions to transitions. Briefs typically include an overview of FOCUS, education about the impact of military life on couples and families and the types of resilience training strategies that can be helpful.

Adapted for military families by a team from the University of California Los Angeles and the Harvard Medical School, FOCUS services are confidential, within the limits of the law.

Mayberry comes into the FOCUS program all too familiar with the challenges facing military families.

“I am the spouse of an Air Force veteran, a mother of three, and an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist,” she explained. “Before I pursued marriage and family therapy, I was a preschool teacher with the Department of Defense Child Development Centers for 15 years. During that tenure as a DOD preschool teacher, I worked overseas in England and Okinawa with the Air Force, followed by 11 years here at Barstow working with Marine families. Prior to joining the FOCUS team, I worked for a local non-profit behavior health facility providing counseling services for active duty and veterans. I have a strong connection to military families and love the fact that I have the opportunity to serve them.”

She currently works in the FOCUS office, located in building 126, behind the Chapel on base, services at this location are temporarily limited to two days a week for in-person family resilience training sessions out of consideration for health and safety of all participants.

“Services are available to military families with children over the age of three, military couples, and Wounded Warrior families,” she said. “In-person sessions are by appointment only right now in accordance with base health and safety regulations. Appointment times are flexible to meet the needs of the families enrolled. Families can also schedule TeleFOCUS appointments to participate in training through our video teleconferencing platform.”

“I encourage families to reach out to us if they are interested in learning more about the program and to see if it might be a good fit for them,” Mayberry said.

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