According to the recently published Lancashire Children and Young People’s Resilience, Emotional and Mental Health and Well-Being Transformation Plan for 2015-2020, it is recognised that:
The newly published Transformation Plan notes that:
This is important but shocking information. In the I Matter Project however we contend that there is also a key gap in models for practice in child and family work. We argue in particular that in spite of the rhetoric of evidence-based practice there is no practice model in child and family work that adequately connects up the relationship between adult well-being, child well-being and development. There is also a gap in models of service delivery that can respond to the sheer scale of the current unmet needs.
What we think is therefore needed is some big picture innovative thinking about what is really underpinning the rise in child mental health difficulties, and some lateral thinking about how the difficulties might be more meaningfully addressed.
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I really love my logo! It was designed for me by Ronnie Mullin at Mullin Design in Kendal, UK and it just sums up perfectly what I Matter is all about. I get to use my logo lots on this site, or on letters and reports and each time I use it it feels good!
The logo shows adults and children with steps as in the way of ladders and this in essence is what I believe has to be the starting point in any work with complex children. Both adults and children are learning.
More than this, I believe that the logo represents the sense that the learning is in built to everything - it is not something separate that we move to and then come back to our ordinary lives. The opportunities for learning are literally everywhere in every moment.
I Matter is about bringing the learning into the day to day relationship experiences and processes. What that means is that this is a constant and active approach. We do not have therapeutic experiences just inside therapy offices, we have the opportunity in the everyday moments in which we tussle with our children as they grow up and we do our best to become the adults that they are needing us to be.
If you are open to learning and growing, do get in touch! There is a lot to learn but this learning can help increase your confidence and your clarity. And with more confidence and clarity the rewards increase too, even inside the most challenging experiences.
One of the things I love most about the I Matter Framework and the I Matter Process is that they provide me with such a helpful way of thinking about what is happening, and what is needed and why, in high intensity home times as well as in a professional context.
It has been one of those weeks. This afternoon I sat with my 18 year old son - we were doing a Debrief after an incident that had started last week.
"What happened?" I asked
"Well I did red and so did you".
We agreed that we hadn't seen it coming, as these red route moments don't happen so often these days. However even as my older sons transition into adulthood, red moments do happen and even though I teach these ideas I can still at times find myself in red along with other family members. (It has often astonished me to discover that some people I have taught have drawn the conclusion that red moments would never happen in my own home! Not true!)
I have nonetheless now come to trust those unexpected red moments as I have discovered that when my own security officer/inner child becomes inflamed they are usually telling me that I (the Boss) need to take a stronger stand on something. In the context of parenting young adults, I had had an idea that my parenting role would be pretty much done by now but it hasn't proved to be the case, and sometimes boundaries still have to be stated and restated.
So, today as part of the Debrief we sat in the cafe together and reflected on the sequence of events, and chuckled about what had happened. I had taken a stand about the importance of treating other people with greater consideration, and as part of the process, my 18 yr old had taken himself off to cool down and decided to sleep in a dinghy in a friends shed!
The Debrief gives such a helpful frame to the rows that still sometimes happen. "I knew it would be alright though Mum," said my son. "We always work it out eventually."
This is the safety that our rows now sit inside. It is OK for us to get angry with each other because we all know that we will be able to find a way to chat once emotions have settled - and once our 'Bosses are back from Lunch'. It took a lot of practice. I remember the days when my son's found it almost impossible to put their thoughts and feelings into words. Now they do it well and know how to hold their own. But one of the fantasies I also had to drop in the process of working out this framework was that good relationships would never include rows.
Now I believe the rows are sometimes positively important. Sometimes as the adult we have to challenge, sometimes we have to say No and we are often not popular when we do. But it is through these moments that we talk about feelings and thoughts and different opinions. We talk about values and relationships and things that matter and we get to chuckle at ourselves. So Debriefs can take energy and thought but used carefully the Debrief times can offer precious sweet moments. We were on green - we passed via red and now we were enjoying green again.
"Was it a comfy dinghy?", I asked.
"Not very," replied my son - "but I had an awesome week!"
If you would like to learn more about how learning about the I Matter Framework and about how to use Debriefs effectively to strengthen your communication and relationships with your child, why not Apply for the next course?
The excitement about having your own blog is that you can write about whatever you want... And you can go hunting for the perfect picture!
This one jumped out at me today - she looks a lot younger than me (!) but I liked this image because she looks as if she is enjoying the process of thinking, and is about to enjoy the process of writing and this is how I am feeling right now.
I have committed myself to writing a regular blog about........well that is the question....... I think I would like this blog to be based on the material that has inspired me over the years as I studied psychology, then education and then clinical psychology, and looked for material that would be really practical in helping me approach the challenges that arose in my professional and personal life around children with complex needs. There is a lot of material!
I was looking at my bookshelves the other day at all the amazing books that I have read over the years and I got really excited at the prospect of being able to explore and share some of what I have learned using this medium.
The I Matter Project is simply my attempt to draw all these ideas together into some sort of practical framework that can help front-line professionals and parents who are wondering which way to travel, but I still a sense of excitement when I look at the original works. What excites me is that people from widely differing traditions and disciplines are starting to converge on similar conclusions. I get a buzz when people get a burst of insight for themselves that takes them forward!
I think this is going to be fun! So what activities give you a buzz?! Can you make some time for them?
Pearls in the mud - raisins in the tea cake! Have you ever caught yourself knowing deep down that there is a pearl or maybe even several in an experience that you are having but that you DON'T WANT TO LOOK FOR IT OR OPEN TO IT RIGHT NOW - THANK YOU VERY MUCH. Not only that, but if anybody, DARES to suggest that you might try doing that you might just WOP them one...
The trouble with teaching something as challenging as I Matter is that I have found there is very little place to hide, especially, especially when you are just wanting things to be different, or go the way you want - NOW. What do you do with all of those feelings of frustration and overwhelm when you are FED UP with how things are? You are just feeling sorry for yourself - even though - blooming heck - there is a little bird on your shoulder saying, "for goodness sake, what about the opportunities here, can't you just look for the jewels..." AAAGGGHHHH!! WOP!!
Sometimes when you dare to look - even just a little peek - , you can realise that there are probably even more jewels than even you dared to imagine BUT YOU STILL DON'T WANT TO LOOK AT THEM - THANK YOU VERY MUCH - AND IF ANYONE DARES TO EVEN SUGGEST IT....... In I Matter of course this is RED ROUTE - with the Boss or Loving Adult well 'OUT TO LUNCH'!
So how do you support yourself in going out to pick up the jewels in the muddy situation - how, when you turn round and discover that you have fallen into the trap of Red Route and of feeling a bit of a grumpy or irritable or weepy old victim, do you admit to what has happened and change your way of being without being crushed by excruciating shame - which can erupt in anger if anyone draws your attention too forcibly to the failings you can see only too readily?
The experience has reminded me of a young very overwhelmed client, who once told me that she could see no reason at all to do Green as it was just too much effort, and so she would stay in Red. And, this, I finally discovered, for me, has been one of the jewels in a recent experience. It has taught me about the experience of helplessness and taught me that it can also be REALLY painfully hard and embarrassing to admit to others and to ourselves how we have behaved under pressure, and why. It has taught me why, as a result, it really can be almost easier to stay in Red than shift out to Green.
How did it happen? When I decide to be less critical of myself, it has reminded me that in challenging situations, it really is important to keep reaching out for and seeking support from the right people - people who will support you but not join you in the Drama Triangle - sometimes for much longer than you think is necessary. I learned that without the right support, for long enough, it is easy to become overwhelmed and to lose touch with the person you really want to be.
I also decided it was no bad thing at all to be reminded of the way in which consistent unresolved challenge and uncertainty can grind a person down, and why - and that unless we have become advanced Buddha's in our ability to stay mindful and in the present = we all at times need to reach out to others when it has become too much for us.
Finally, it has reminded me that perhaps collapsing is also not a terrible thing to do - particularly if you like to be the confident strong type. Some situations really are tough and a collapse simply is - surely - an indication, that something has to change.
So, things have changed, externally and internally. They are not what I expected, but I have got some of what I really wanted and that is amazing. So, I have decided to swallow my pride, and go out to pick up the jewels again. Green feels easier again. In fact now that I have agreed to look again, there are so many jewels I am astonished to find them everywhere and I can't help wondering how many I must have missed before. But I can see them now, and that is wonderful!
Have you found yourself being or becoming a person you don't want to be? If so, remember "I Matter" and ask yourself what support you might need to move forward again in your journey?
Have you ever woken up with a sudden sense of clarity that meant you had to leap out of bed and take action?!
I find my best moments of clarity arise like that and this morning it was elephants...... and at 5..00 am here is the picture that I found that has me beaming from ear to ear!
In the last few months, I have been studying the language of business. For years I have been studying psychology - and I know a lot about this - but when it came to running a business I discovered that I was rather clueless and so I decided I needed to learn! .
One of my greatest challenges as I have learned 'business speak', has been to decide on my 'niche.' Who exactly then are my 'ideal clients'. I have learned it is important to be VERY specific. Who is it that I want to work with? And why ? And what exactly is 'my offering'? My difficulty has been that children with complex needs are in practice, a varied group and their support needs cut across complex systems. I enjoy working with them and with the systems at lots of levels. It All interests me!! Yes, but providing what, and for who? I have learned I must be precise..... Yes...but..
Until I remembered this morning about what first triggered me into action on this teaching project - my experience of working in schools and sitting in CAMHS and psychology referral meetings, and then the OECD report of 2007 on the shocking state of well-being of children in the UK and USA. As I was thinking about all this I remembered the story of the Elephants..... the Elephants and the Blind Men - the ancient parable that comes from India, or China, and relates the story of six blind men, all of whom were very clear that they knew exactly what an elephant was like (a rope, a fan, a tree..), yet each of them missing the more powerful truth of the bigger picture.. And I realised that this parable nicely represents what I Matter offers! I Matter is about pulling ideas and people together to provide practical empowering ideas that support action to address the well-being of our children in our individual families and our communities.. I feel strongly that if we are ever to address these issues, then it would help massively to agree on a shared Framework to underpin our decisions at family, community and political levels about what we teach, when, to who, and why.
The Elephant of Psychology - not the parts of the elephant is what interests me.. The fragmented parts imposed on the whole (different diagnoses, models, and approaches) are all interesting but the whole picture is so practical and useful!! And once you have seen The Elephant, and discover just how central the brain is and how central individuals - YOU - are in creating that story and influencing the bigger picture, the rest - the tail and the trunk and the ear make so much more sense because they are now in context. If you are struggling with anxiety, or depression or a challenging complex child, or unreasonable directives, you may have become confused and fixed on a specific issue or diagnosis, or policy, but I believe that if you are a passionate and curious sort of person, I Matter Training can help you take a few steps back, take stock and decide for yourself the what and the why in your specific setting..
I remember clearly the moment, several years ago now, when sitting at my desk after years of puzzling and trying to piece together so many different diagnoses, theories and ideas from psychology into a more coherent whole, that it suddenly dawned on me what the big picture looked like.....and how an understanding of brain development was so central. The revelation was as significant in that moment as realising that the reason that I had been struggling was that the picture was upside down. And when I turned things round, when I turned the puzzle on its head, saw the picture, and found the repeating patterns within it, was so transparently obvious and fascinating -- and not that difficult really. Ahhhhh!! What a relief!!
I called the integration of all those ideas and the picture that emerged 'I Matter'. I could have called it something else, but that is what I saw clearly and so that is what it must remain. What I would like to do through this blog and through the I Matter Project is share what I have learned with others, because if I could help you take even a few small steps forward to piecing together the puzzle and understanding more clearly for yourself the direction of travel in your home and your community and why, I will have done what I intended.
I cannot do the puzzle for anyone else - you must do it yourself, but I can tell you that the vast array of theories and approaches and perspectives in psychology do all fit together into something rather amazing and powerful and practically useful - there is an elephant!!! And elephants are wise and strong and in the wild, know exactly where they are going..
So, if you are feeling stressed or confused right now about what you are doing and why and what you want - be reassured, because there IS an elephant to be grasped, and a clear direction of travel! I can do my best to tell you about the picture on the box but your journey to put it together will be your own! The big picture is EXCITING, though be warned, it can be very challenging! Right now you may be getting too focussed on just the tail of the challenge, or the ear... but there is a bigger picture if you step back and look a little more carefully...
PS. OK, though my work has wide scope to work with all sorts of client groups, my really ideal clients tend to be professional working women, (or a special type of man (!)), - who are i) curious and interested to learn about psychology and child development, ii) passionate about what they do and willing to lead, iii) often have a challenging child or relationship of their own and iv) are quite often overwhelmed but determined to move on so that they can be v) more effective, and have better relationships and more fun, in their home and work settings! I know a bit about all that! Yay!!!
Who do you turn to as your role models? This fascinating lady from the 1600's came into my awareness earlier this year when I joined a community theatre company and was unexpectedly offered the main part. (Yikes!) As the adventure progressed, the more I learned about Lady Anne, the more interested I became in her story.
Amongst other facts what impressed me most was her sheer conviction and determination to keep working for what she wanted in spite of endless obstacles.
Initially Lady Anne may have been trying to support others wishes - but eventually she developed her own conviction and pursued her own story in spite of finding that many people felt she was unreasonable and awkward. Finally, faced with a No from the King and everyone else, she had to wait a full 27 years.. before being able to get on with what she had wanted to do. And then she quietly got on with the task she had set herself - in her case restoring the castles and churches of Westmorland. Now, I find that inspiring!
Within the I MATTER FRAMEWORK we can understand why, psychologically speaking, the role models we choose are important. Role models are a special type of 'attachment figure' (bigger, stronger, or wiser significant figure) to whom we can turn mentally - or whom we can 'social reference' (think about what they could be thinking) when we have a decision to make. Our role models - chosen wisely - have the capacity to help us reach towards stronger, higher versions of ourselves. In my case, I believe passionately that psycho-education can help us understand ourselves and our children better, and can help us know how to move on and out of mental health conditions and challenging situations that can otherwise feel completely disabling. So, now when I find myself uncertain about what to do in the face of obstacles, I often ask myself ."Well, what would Lady Anne do now?" And modelling myself on her strength, I go more confidently from there.
Who do you refer to as role models in your life - and for what qualities?
This is intended to be a professional website.. However, I Matter emerged in my life out of a very personal journey and so though I don't intend to use this site to share lots of intimate details, as I start out on the task of sharing these ideas through my own on-line business, it is perhaps fitting to share with you that the I Matter Framework and the I Matter Process have been central to a very challenging journey, through a divorce - and other adventures - and on to a much happier place. with my partner Pierre.
We celebrated our second wedding last week - on the 24th anniversary of our first. On that occasion, with family and friends we released more than 100 helium balloons from the top of the golf course in Kendal, with tickets attached sending words of encouragement out to the universe (one was recovered 300 miles away!) Relationships can be very challenging, but if we persevere in that journey, there are incredible opportunities to become stronger and wiser and happier versions of ourselves.
So be warned, with an understanding of I Matter, ANYTHING can happen!
Dr Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin
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