Professional or home life with complex or challenging children can be very demanding. I know because I have worked in this area for nearly 30 years and I have often found myself often feeling helpless in the face of demands that seem to keep increasing year on year working in services that seem poorly adapted and unresponsive to the scale of the needs at hand. So I developed I Matter Training in response to my own confusion and because I felt that there was something really important missing that was making it more difficult to feel good about my job, or in my other multiple roles.. Here are the ways that the I Matter Framework, I Matter Model and I Matter Process help me and what I have heard others saying that the training offers them:
1. I feel much more confident in the theoretical basis of my practice decisions
As a teacher and a clinical psychologist, I had done a lot of training but the truth is that I left my clinical psychology course still feeling pretty confused about what clinical psychologists did and why. This is because I saw psychologists - good psychologists - practising in very different ways. I heard others saying that it was a matter of 'personal choice' but that felt pretty feeble after years of training and I wanted something much more solid that could join apparently diverse important ideas into a more connected whole. The I Matter Framework does that for me - it helps build up a big picture that connects up diverse well-established ideas into something very concrete and practical and founded upon the premise of a learning journey. Persuading others - that the I Matter Framework and Model could also help them has proved more challenging than I anticipated (I have my rejections letter wall!) but this doesn't change the fact that I feel much clearer about the day to day foundations of MY work. You could have this confidence too!
2. I am able to make sense of very diverse observations and have a method of sharing these explanations with others I know that to be effective in helping children it is vitally important to be successful in helping adults at home and at school. I know that as a professional and as a parent I am also expected in some degree to be a role model. The challenge has been finding a way to explain important ideas in a way that makes sense to professionals and parents with very different levels of experience and training. Many of my clients don't read books. With I Matter Training I have a way of integrating simple but powerful psycho-education into my sessions or informal conversations in a way that empowers my clients or others to feel much more confident in making and taking responsibility for key decisions. When I realised that there was a need to shift the hearts and minds of a much wider community, I decided to invest in having my initial scrappy drawings turned into professionally designed posters that are intended to attract attention and start important conversations. Teachers love these posters! Parents and Young People get them too. If you train with us, you could own a set of these posters to support this work.
3. I Matter Training offers a very powerful and clear alternative to an overly medicalised model for understanding mental health difficulties and challenging behaviour Have you noticed that when there are no good explanations around that people default to thinking that there must be something wrong with the child, and wanting to know what the diagnosis is? Have you noticed that the solution commonly then seems to be that the child needs a label or some medication? The demand from parents to have solutions means that as a professional you can be on the back foot if you do not have something strong and solid to support an alternative way of understanding. I Matter Training gives me confidence in helping parents and others think through these labelling and medication decisions with much more clarity. Labelling and medication can at times be helpful but many know that it is often being used recklessly and in the absence of the psychological support that should form part of a good intervention with a more challenging child. I find that with better understanding parents are often more able to resist the overly-medicalised option. I know that some children are very demanding and need adults to build really advanced skills. There is a structure there now to support this longer-term work. If you take the basics training you will be able to access that network of support opportunities.
4. I Matter Training helps me feel solid in knowing that there is a need to challenge current educational policy and practices - I have worked as a teacher and I work with some amazing schools and teachers but it is clear to me that something is seriously off track in the current regime and in the practices of Ofsted. There are so many stressed children and stressed adults that it is clear that in spite of the rhetoric of raising educational standards - the reality is that school is becoming a toxic place for many children and adults. A group that is particularly vulnerable is those children who have not mastered early social-emotional foundations of learning - due to sensory processing difficulties, or neglect or trauma. This includes children who have been given a diagnostic label, children in the looked after care sector, or those who have been adopted. These are a growing number in every school and classroom. Who can speak up for this group? Failure to 'raise standard's with this group is not just a result of poor teaching - My observation is that there is a mismatch between demands and resources and between the needs and capacities of the child and what the adults in the room are being asked to do. More therapy is not the solution. My view is that senior decision makers who are making important decisions that impact heavily on children and families are poorly informed. I Matter Training and assessments are attempts to set things out in a manner that offers clarity and gives schools a chance to 'fight back'. Emotionally healthy adults cannot emerge from large numbers of children whose emotional needs have been persistently overlooked. It is not possible. We know this - it is not rocket science - but it is important to me as a teacher and psychologist to act upon this knowing - not just to talk about it. But no one person can do this alone. Change will only come about if people like you decide to join a movement to challenge current practices.
5. I Matter Training helps me know that I cannot be effective if my own well-being is being too heavily impacted. It is easy to miss the point at which situations which were 'manageable' become 'unmanageable'. I have found that the I Matter Framework and the I Matter Model and the I Matter Process provide me with some powerful insights that make it much easier to manage very high levels of demands.. However when demands continue relentlessly at work or in home relationships then there is sometimes a need to take a stand and set a boundary - even if others don't like you doing this. Figuring out when this point has been reached and then taking the actions that are needed to protect yourself, and manage the resulting conflict, so that you can be effective in fulfilling your role or doing your job is a vital part of feeling good about what you do. Sometimes red route anger is a healthy response to an unhealthy situation. Have you ever found yourself at such a point? Your well-being matters! Not just for you but for those you are working to support. The important thing is that you understand the foundations for your own choices.
6. I have assessment tools and resources that fit the needs that I see on a day to day basis in school and clinic settings. One of the most difficult parts of my job has involved being asked to use routine assessment tools that do not fit adequately with the needs that I have observed in everyday practice. So as part of the I Matter Training package I invented some new ones - and trialled them with local colleagues. For the first time I have tools that get at the key issues that I know an effective intervention must shift in a school or home setting if change is to be longer standing. For the first time I have a developmental tool that can be used with the older child at work or at home in a manner that is informative, and sometimes shocking, to those involved. It is also immediately practical and empowering. I believe that these tools are really important as they allow us to give the numbers that educational policy makers crave, focussed on issues that matter to teachers and social workers and psychologists of the more complex child. The assessments provide a foundation for providing that longer term support. Yay! I am still working on the challenge of getting this thinking to people who need it, in a manner to bring about the changes that are needed. You could be part of that process.
7. I have a community of colleagues from different disciplines who 'get' the issues and who want to work with me and others to find a way to get this training out to a wider community of professionals and parents. Feeling professionally or personally isolated when you are coping with high levels of demands can be very difficult indeed - in fact it can be exceptionally draining to feel that you are seeing something that others are not seeing nor appearing to care much about. I Matter Training helps you join a supportive passionate community of 'old fashioned' professionals who believe that our job as professionals in children and families is to look after ourselves so that we can ensure that the emotional and developmental needs of child and family are met at home and at work. It is a community that believes that confident formal learning of literacy and numeracy will follow with much less angst for child and young person if we first ensure these strong social-emotional foundations. I Matter Training will help you join up lots of dots and support you on a journey through lots of ups and downs.
So you can take I Matter Training as a professional but will likely find that you come away also thinking much more deeply and consciously about your home-based relationships. This can sometimes be challenging but with more conscious awareness you will find yourself empowered to work more effectively with others to make important decisions. It is as you take this vitally important longer-term view that you will be better equipped to support mental health and healthy development of yourself and of those you support at home and at work.
Any more ideas?
I would love to hear from you!
Take care - you can make a difference!
Dr Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin
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