Donegal family in new RTE series

The Cannon family from Donegal town are one of three families featuring in a new series on RTE.

The Cannon family from Donegal town are one of three families featuring in a new series on RTE.

Following last years success of ‘Teens in the Wild’, clinical psychologist David Coleman is back with a new show based on a similar concept, but this time he has extended his advice and therapeutic work to the whole clan. Families in the Wild sees David (the Irish Dr. Phil), taking three individual families, including the Cannons, away from the stresses and pressures of daily life to the isolation and tranquillity of the Kerry wilderness for a week of activities and therapy.

Here, each family member has the opportunity to get a fresh perspective on how they get on with each other and, with David’s help, they can begin to understand each other’s issues and needs as well as begin to communicate in a more positive way. Over the course of the week, the family participate in outdoor activities that challenge them to work together as a team, communicate effectively and build trust.

After calling off their wedding and temporarily separting in 2008, Michael and Nathalie Cannon are now back together, but the break has lead to trust issues in the family. The couple also feel that they differ in their parenting skills, and have yet to deal with the impact of the separation on themselves and on their two daughters - Shannon (12) and Jamie (10).

Their first activity was to navigate a demanding climb on hilly terrain, and give the girls an opportunity to lead the way. Nathalie’s overprotectiveness was evident during the task, and she was clearly nervous when her younger daughter began to climb the hill. David believes that Nathalie needs to make fewer decisions for her children and allow them to make their own mistakes. He says that if the two girls don’t get practice at making their own decisions now, when it comes to the bigger ordeals in life and the stakes are higher, they could make terrible decisions .

After a week of David’s help as well as an action-packed week of activities, it is his hope that the families will return home with new found communication skills which will help them to get on better on a daily basis and help improve their family life. Although he admits that “seven days isn’t going to change a whole family’s life instantaneously,” he hopes that the changes that start with him and the instructors including the lovely Sinead from ‘More Active’, might have a lasting impact.

The programme also visits the families five months after their week in the wild, to see the extent to which changes have continued to take place.

Families in the Wild continues on RTE1 on Monday nights at 9.35pm for the next three weeks.