About Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin - Author of the I Matter Framework is a practising clinical psychologist, an experienced teacher and a parent.
After nearly 30 years of practice with children and adults with complex social emotional needs, Cathy is committed to finding ways to provide psycho-education and meaningful support to professionals and parents-carers, so that understanding increases between home and school and community.
Her social enterprise training company is set up to share the insights of the I Matter Framework with a wider audience
THE BACKGROUND TO THE I MATTER FRAMEWORK
Every approach has a story and so it will probably help you to understand how this thinking emerged.
The seeds of the I Matter Framework took root in the first instance in the earliest days of my clinical training in Birmingham - or perhaps even before. In 1992 I had had a family bereavement and just joined clinical training and then soon after become a first time mum. It was a lot to manage and at the time I needed and wanted understanding that could help me to help myself with the intense confusion and overwhelm I felt back then in professional and personal roles faced with so many demands and so much fascinating but apparently contradictory advice and theoretical models and approaches.
The truth was that feeling so confused about what to focus on and why left me feeling more stressed and less confident in every role I had. In all that richness of opportunity, I couldn't find my feet. Being a stressed out child clinical psychologist and parent was frankly not much fun at all So, eventually, because I had previously been a teacher, I started out trying to figure out what I wished I had been taught - and the order in which I wished things had been taught - that meant reading widely and trying to organise a very wide body of research into something that could help me in my role as a newly qualified professional - and as a mum. My first small publication back in 1995 was called an Integrated Approach to Practice. I wrote an article for the professional journal called Why is My Baby Crying? Then I had another baby and somehow life got very very busy and publication projects I had hoped to take forward got put on the shelf.
However as I went through this researching exercise and observed what was happening in the varied settings in which I was working I was also however rather shocked... the evidence I was reading showed me that too often our everyday practices in children's mental health and well-being were sliding into a language that focused on treating children who were disordered and missing some incredibly important details... like relationships.... like brain development... like community ....surely not... but yes that was the key uncomfortable conclusion..
I kept on puzzling, trying to find a way to communicate, what I felt the research was really saying in a form that professionals and parents who were in frontline positions doing most of the everyday caring could understand, and finally something emerged which I called the Adult-Child Well-Being 'I Matter' Framework. I found pictures were better than words to explain the connections. When I tried sharing those pictures with others, professionals and parents told me that the I Matter Framework way of thinking really helped them too.
Then of course I started to imagine creating something online that could help more people like you - front line professionals such as Teachers, and TA's and GP's and Social Workers and Police, as well as families of children with a variety of ages, and needs - to gain access to this important understanding much more quickly and easily than had been the case for me . I realised this was a really important goal, because one thing that the research evidence showed so clearly was that the adults role was SO key to so many outcomes not just in mental health but also in physical health, and education and in building safer communities.
After that there were MANY other hurdles on the way....so I do know what a struggle this path can sometimes be... but now I am excited to be working closely with the Kendal Integrated Care Community and with the Morecambe Bay Better Care Together movement and ...finally... this training is ready to share with more people like yourself.
So, the reason that I have kept going and the reason I think your participation in this training is so important is that clarity did emerge as well as my conviction that a good understanding of what the research evidence is REALLY saying really matters - when we pull it ALL together without leaving out key details. Your understanding can support much better decision making. It is understanding that will help you to work well with others to help your child, or other children, whatever the key role you happen to be in.
Remember that I drew the I Matter Framework together informed by many years of experience in mental health services for children. So..... again my experienced professional view is that a shift of emphasis and approach is URGENTLY needed.
Why? Because current thinking and resource use - and a too narrow interpretation of evidence based practice - can too often, unintentionally I believe, disempower the very people - professionals and parents like you - who need to gain the confidence that they are a key part of making a difference. Sadly I have seen too many times that such uninformed thinking can fuel loss of confidence and then escalate challenges.
So, what can we do? We can shift to a community learning based approach to improving children's mental health and wellbeing in which everyone - Including YOU - has a key role to play through the investing of time and care to develop the insight and skills needed to support effective action in the everyday wonderful and challenging moments that can arise with children - particularly the most vulnerable.
Here is a key idea - if your child, or you, are struggling or have any additional challenges, YOU will need to develop some advanced insight and skills - AND you will need to find the support that can help you with this.
Let's say this again - if you are struggling right now - I KNOW this is hard - but you still have a really important role to play - so just take tiny little steps - just tiny ones - as they will add up. The struggle can be really really hard at times but it can be from grappling with these challenges that new exciting shoots emerge.
So, there aren't any quick fixes - sorry - however when you take the time to study and learn the I Matter Framework and our Five Steps to Success and their implications, your understanding and confidence will be bolstered and from this one key decision to invest in you, many other good things will flow: relationship health will improve, and your children will be more likely to enjoy spending time with you. As you make positive steps, you will more likely see your children gain confidence in handling their own challenges.
With this more effective support from you, they will also be much more likely to mature into adults that are more able to care for others and for this planet which we all know so badly needs a different type of attentive care.
When you learn and then support others, you can be part of a process of helping your community.
In fact, learning the I Matter Framework can impact so many aspects of your work and home life that if you CAN make time to complete the training then I REALLY hope you will do it
One important note - I Matter training is not glossy... nor highly produced. I had to teach myself a lot of details to get this training to you and so there are loads of ways it could be improved. I know I need to do some of the videos again. However if you are someone who really wants to learn I know you will pass over the production and kindly remind me that one day.. maybe.. I could get some help with doing a better job with some of these details.
So please think of this training as an act of love for professionals and parents like you - it has taken a LOT of work to get it into this format....my own family have had to be very patient but they too urged me to keep going to finish so that I could share with you what I had started - so that it can help you to help your children. I welcome your feedback - if it is shared kindly - as I want this resource to help you and help others.
What you will find is that the I Matter Framework aims to weave together vitally important but often overlooked insights from a very wide medical, psychological and community based research literature about stress, children's development, brain development and the adult role and the power of our beliefs and attitudes. The goal is to ensure you have got strong foundations and have gained a good understanding of how different ideas are connected.
Here is an important footnote : In the days in which so many of us have taken inspiration from Greta Gunberg who has had the confidence to stand up and say it like it is, my belief is that a key part of the way forward to a happier healthier planet is that individuals decide to invest in their own ability to be good or better at relationships with others - and with the problem solving skills that this always involved.
You can be part of a movement that helps you to help your child at home, in school and in your community so that together we can care for a happier healthier planet. Remember its harder for us to do it without you!
So think about it? If you were to focus on improving one key relationship, which one would it be and why?
Then with that clarity in mind, you might want to think about joining the I Matter Challenge!
CATHY AS A SPEAKER
Cathy is currently focused on ensuring that I Matter online training becomes established as an accessible resource. However when other commitments permit, she is an illuminating and engaging speaker, and workshop leader. In Cathy’s workshops, inset and talks professionals and parents learn about the value of taking a step back on everyday life with challenging or struggling children.
Your audience will walk away with a sense of empowerment in the face of challenges in home, work or community settings and with clarity about three often overlooked issues that need to be taken care of for greater likelihood of success. The key steps are much more than just behaviour management, sticker charts and a good IEP