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| 15 July, 2018

Free online and tele-counselling services launched across UAE

It aligns with the objectives of the National Agenda of the UAE Vision 2021.

Free online and tele-counselling services launched across UAE

The Ministry of Community Development (MOCD) launched Taalouf (Harmony) initiative, a confidential family counseling service, on Sunday.

The initiative provides one-on-one family counseling sessions in seven centres across the UAE and online sessions that will accommodate Arab and Emirati families. A free phone line service, operated by specialised consultants, will propose solutions to family issues and advise callers on maintaining positive relations within the family.

It aligns with the objectives of the National Agenda of the UAE Vision 2021 and the National Family Policy to build a cohesive and stable family equipped to face life's different challenges.

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Sana Mohammed Suhail, undersecretary of MOCD, said the initiative goes beyond resolving disputes, to offering guidance to married couples and ensuring family cohesion to all society segments.

"Sometimes you have a case of a widow who is finding difficulties dealing with her teenage children. The initiative aims to provide integrated services of guidance and awareness to ensure family cohesion and resolve different issues," said Suhail.

The service aims to help people achieve harmony in individual and family life, strengthen emotional bonds within the family, reduce divorce rate in the country, prevent problems occurring in dysfunctional families, and address tension and alienation between spouses.

Through it, the ministry seeks to reach compromises that satisfy both parties, and educate parents on raising children in a safe and secure family environment.

Ever since the ministry launched two family counselling centres last year - Jumeirah in Dubai and Julfar in Ras Al Khaimah - experts were able to resolve 70 per cent of the family disputes. The ministry has now launched seven centres across the UAE in collaboration with different local government entities.

"We have seen the positive results of family counselling. Some of the disputes and concerns were resolved within one day of the visit," said Suhail.

The ministry is working with different local government entities across the country including Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai, the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Ajman and Ras Al Khaimah courts to provide Taalouf services.

Suhail added the initiative aims to build the culture of resorting to family counselling when needed, which is absent in Arab societies. The low number of family counselling centres across the country is also a challenge the ministry is working to address, she said.

Developing cadres of family counselling

While there are currently over 13 professional counsellors providing Taalouf services in Arabic, Suhail said the ministry is working to introduce a cadre of family counsellors.

"Unfortunately we still have a gap in family counsellors, and we are working to develop this career across the UAE to provide our services in different languages," she said.

The ministry will work to develop internal cadre of family and social counsellors, besides growing it as a career. "Our partnerships with local government entities provide us with counsellors when needed to fill this gap, but we are working to make counselling as a more prevalent career across the country," Suhail said.

The Taalouf initiative also works to fill the gap of family counselling services in different emirates across the UAE. The ministry also invited experienced volunteers over the age of 50, registered at the UAE Volunteers platform, to support the initiative.

Family counselling centres across the UAE

>Jumeirah centre Dubai, in collaboration with Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department in Dubai

>Ajman centre, supported by the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in Ajman

>Umm Al Quwain centre, supported by the Ministry of Interior Social Support Centre in Umm Al Quwain

>Julfar centre in Ras Al Khaimah, supported by Ras Al Khaimah Courts

>Fujairah centre, supported by Dubai Foundation for Women and Children

>Khorfakkan centre

> Kalba centre

Taalouf family counselling services:

>Free phone line

The Taalouf family counseling channels include a free phone line - 800623 - open for inquiries from Sunday to Thursday from 8am to 2:30pm. The line is staffed by specialised consultants that propose solutions to family issues and advise callers how to maintain positive relations within the family. The service is available to all members of the public without distinction.

>Website

The ministry has also created a page on its website www.mocd.gov.ae that responds to family counseling queries within one business day.

>One-on-one sessions

Dedicated spaces at the ministry's social development centres provide one-on-one sessions with family counselors. Ideal for people who wish to discuss their problems face-to-face in a private setting, the service is already running on select days of the week across seven centres.

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