When parents get in touch with us, they are often at the end of their tether. Family life has been difficult and they desperately want it to be different. Correction, they NEED it to be different.
Often, we often speak to parents who have tried everything. They have engaged the help of professionals – Paediatricians, Family Support Workers, Teachers, Psychologists, listened to the advice of friends and family and scoured the internet to find that one, single solution that will make everything okay. They come to us in the hope that we might have that one, single solution to all of their problems. We don’t.
The challenges and behaviours that parents describe to us have complex backgrounds. As with all behaviours, they are a response to the people around them and individual life events. Behavioural change involves offering supportive relationships that foster changes. Through therapy sessions we support parents to build a family environment that supports behavioural change through trust and communication.
Over the sessions, and as families begin to understand and trust one another, there are many highs and it can begin to feel as though parents finally have a solution that works. With highs, however, there are also lows and this can feel hugely disappointing and as though things are no better than they were. Trust takes time, as does learning to communicate in a different way. As we peel back the layers and get closer to root of the issue, it can be very emotional and difficult. While it may not seem like it, this is a sign that things are working.
Other important things to remember are:
- Building relationships takes time. Being together laughing and having fun in an environment absent from judgment or worry can be extremely healing.
- Therapy sessions are about really getting to know your child. Through watching them and learning to really listen to them, parents/carers begin to understand what their child needs and how to provide the right kind of support at the right time.
- You may feel uncomfortable. As you build and develop a closer relationship your child, it may feel awkward as you learn to interact differently. Similarly, you may find it challenging at first to trust a professional. Play and talk within therapy are part of a process of learning to trust which is unique for everyone.
- A system of support is important. Your child’s needs may be complex and learning to adapt to them and work with the key people in their lives creates a system of support. It is often the case that integrating approaches and involving others like paediatricians, occupational therapists or teachers can be helpful.
Charlotte is a qualified Social Worker, a certified Theraplay Practitioner and is currently in the process of becoming a certified DDP Practitioner.