Interventions are assessed on a family by family basis but are informed by Systemic Psychotherapeutic approaches to working with families, this includes thinking and exploring family dynamics and relationships in the context of some of the difficulty’s families are experiencing. The role of the therapist is to attempt a neutral position to enable her/him to be on everyone’s side. These methods are also informed by Dan Hughes’s Attachment Narrative approaches to Family Therapy. Using PACE, Playfulness, Acceptance, Curiosity and Empathy to help parents to understand attachment seeking behaviours and the mind of the child. I also use Non-Violent Resistant attitudes particularly if parents are struggling with a child’s resistance. Therapeutic parenting ideas will also inform my work.
Below are some different areas of work that other families have found helpful;
• Understanding Attachment
At the beginning stages of the intervention it is important to establish a parent understanding and relationship to attachment this may involve psycho education using playful methods using cards to enable us to understand the child in the context of their early life experiences. This also enables us to be able to explore a parent’s own relationship with attachment and how they make sense of the child’s behaviour. This can be a complex area as it is sensitive and relies on the parent’s resilience to be able to look back on events and begin to imagine what it may be like for the child’s eyes. I have lots of experience working with parents around attachment and can approach parents in a manner that fits their own cognitive ability and capacity.
• Experience of being parented.
Parents often value the opportunity to consider their own experience of being parented and how this may then influence the decisions they make to parent a child. This appears to be even more relevant to parents who may have biological children in the home. It often also helps parents understand the different approaches which need to be considered when traditional approaches are not being helpful.
• Attention seeking V’s Attachment seeking.
Encouraging parents to recognise the differences between attention seeking and attachment seeking is complicated and involves a shift in language and comprehension.
The need to be able to apprehend when as a parent we need to draw in and not pull away. This involves parent’s acceptance of the child on an emotional and psychological level. Ensuring that a child’s inner world emotions wishes and feelings are not evaluated by others in the family.
• Empathic Commentary and regulation of emotion
Parents are asked to consider how certain behaviours and presentation affect them from an emotional perspective. Manging our own emotions in the moment can be the most difficult task for most parents. I will often use mindfulness approaches to help parents to be able to access how they feel and why the feel this way. It also involves becoming more acutely aware of how our emotions will impact our ability to parent a child who is sometimes rejecting and sometimes loving (push -pull). Once parents are more familiar with managing their own emotions then empathic commentary can be a useful way to assist children in accessing their own emotions thus helping to de-escalate and calm a situation enabling parents to be more confident and containing.
• Understanding emotions.
There will be many complex and challenging moments for parents and so it is been important that I provided space for them to reflect on their own emotions and what had positioned them to act in particular ways. Ruptures in relationship are not uncommon in stressful and difficult situations particularly if these are unfamiliar so as times my role has been to help parents to consider their feelings and to reflect on how a situation has impacted their own values and attitudes in life. It has also been important to consider the impact of external family and friends and how their opinions and thoughts influence the moment and the contemplation.
• Child Development
Some of my work has been in being able to offer advice and support to parents about issues around child development, understanding what happens when and how to manage changes and transitions. I help consider parents own interaction with the children and where they feel boundaries and expectations should be in an age appropriate way. At times it is necessary to offer validation and encouragement. Understanding family life cycles and how changes occur over time often helps to alleviate stress and catastrophising. I am experienced at working with children of all ages as I have worked and learned in many contexts.
• Approaches to parenting
Children who are developmentally traumatised by their early experiences and are emotionally insecure therefore need very special parenting if they are to recover from their early experience. These children generally cope less well with traditional parenting based on rewards and consequences to achieve acceptable behaviour. Being able to offer the children empathic behaviour management will enable parents to feel more confident to manage the emotional, cognitive and physical care a child will need. these approaches are explored at length to enable parents to feel confident to use different approaches which may differ from ones they have used with other children.
Engaging families is the most important aspect of my role as a therapist if I am not perceived as accepting caring and approachable and, in a manner, where parents do not feel judged or patronised then no amount of intervention will be helpful. I have many years’ experience of working with families and I can honestly say I have never had a family refuse to work with me. My most recent two families have requested further sessions which is testament to the relationship we have formed. I also go into school to help teachers when behaviour is difficult at school and am happy to network and lease with other professionals for the benefit of the family. I consider my self approachable and very reliable. My methods rely on constant feedback from parents as to how the sessions are going.
I am playful and will always use paper and pens to draw things out, I can use toys and puppets, sculpting articles and books but what is more important is tapping into the techniques that work for different parents and children. I recently spent three session with a young woman having her teach me to play Minecraft on X box just to have an opportunity to talk to about her difficult sibling relationship. Its important to be creative