About the programme

“What About Us?” is a programme for parents who have children with developmental delays. Developmental delays meant here range from minor (ADHD/ADD) to greater ones (such as, for example, combined disorder or mental retardation). Developmental delay can also mean mental dysfunction.

The activity within the programme started as a project in 2002 by order of the Ministry of Children and Family (MCF) of Norway and is carried out all over the country by the Centers for Family and Relationships. “What About Us?” was over as a project in December 2004 and changed into a permanent programme with courses on relationships for a target group. The programme is supported at the national level in Norway, financed from the state budget and is secured at present in the Family Protection in the four healthcare regions.

The name of the project comes from the experience of the couples which is based on the fact that the relationships between the spouses used to be «above-line accounts» and accordingly, in the everyday life full of many-things-to-do when most of the attention is paid to a child, such relationships take the last place in the list of priorities.

The method

The programme “What About Us?” includes training courses for couples as well as follow-up courses which are meant for couples who participated in the basic course of “What About Us?”. The course encourages the couple relationships based on good communication and conflict resolution, cooperation and mutual respect. An important input to the programme was made from the ”The Prevention Relationship Enhancement Programme” programme (PREP). PREP was initially an American programme which was translated, re-considered and adopted to the Norwegian conditions for the first time in 1998 by the Modum Bad Center for Family and Relationships.

Target groups

The course is aimed at parents of children with developmental delays. The group of children with developmental delay includes all types of developmental disorders and different ages, including also above 18, irrespective of the fact where a child lives at home or in a specialized institution.  


The course is constructed as a weekend course and is held from Friday to Sunday in a hotel. The course includes classes by the course leader, working in groups, own activities and discussions in plenary meetings. 

The following topics are discussed at all the courses:
•    Introduction in the family life and relationships of the couples  
•    Communication: a key or a lock?
•    Mixed feelings
•    Men and Women – two different worlds?
•    When do we humiliate each other
•    Create a space for living for every family member
•    Friendship, intimacy and privacy

The course leaders have to undergo special education at the leader courses and become a certified course leader for “What About Us?”. They also have to meet once a year for experience exchange and their knowledge update under the supervision of the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Families.


NOVA held a research in 2005 based on evaluation of the WAU course participants during a certain period of time and their answers in questionnaire forms after completion of the course.  NOVA concluded that the WAU programme received positive feedbacks and was highly evaluated with some slight differences on separate topics. Thus, the topic of communication was definitely mostly appreciated.

In autumn 2011, the Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family gave a task to АО «NTNU Public Research» to evaluate the course for couples – parents who have children with developmental delays. The evaluation was held by a group of researchers from the Department of Diversity and Inclusion, and the evaluation report was prepared in November 2012.  The evaluation was based on a research project where a group of researchers accumulated data with the help of the following methods:

1. Quantitative interviewing of about 25 former course participants. The participants were selected from different places of living and also those who attended the course in different periods of time. 

2. Qualitative interviewing of the people in charge of the courses in different regions, as well as qualitative interviewing of the course leaders.

3. Monitoring over two courses. 

4. Qualitative research and questionnaire survey of all the course participants beginning from 2006 when the responsibility for the course was given to the Directorate for Children, Youth and Families.

The main purpose of the evaluation was to record the importance and significance of the courses. The methods were chosen so that to collect not only qualitative data, but also a more detailed and specified feedback and experience form the participants and organizers. The report has been completed and delivered.

The programme in the world and in Russia

The programme “What About Us?” is available in many places all over the world, but Norway is the only country where they work so purposefully on relationships for this target group. The programme aroused international interest when it was presented outside the country.

“What About Us?” was for the first time presented at the Russian-Nordic seminar in Russia in March 2008. The reason for that was in a great amount of divorces in the northern areas. The programme was very much welcome. In February 2009, it was presented for the first time in the Complex Centre in Monchegorsk, Murmansk region. It was the beginning of cooperation with the Centre, which is still going on. These days the programme is under implementation also in Arkhangelsk region, Republic of Komi and Republic of Karelia. Russia is the only country in the world which introduced the “What About Us?” programme together with Norway and this cooperation is still in progress. 

Contact information

Sissel Roland
Specially trained therapist
Family counselling office
The Country of South Trøndelag (Norway)
Phone: +47 466 15 386+47 466 15 386
E-mail: sissel.roland@bufetat.no