There is a significant crisis in the provision of mental health services for children and families. The needs are growing and services are being cut. So maybe there is a need to think laterally?
I think the research evidence is clear: Strong attachment relationships at home and at school make a profound difference to the way in which a chlld's brain functions and develops and to their ability to understand and work with others to overcome their challenges.
Therefore if we want to impact on mental health and educational outcomes we need to actively promote understanding of the importance of relationships and relationship skills in building resilience across the life span. We need to engage with and prioritise the challenge of helping adults and children build healthier relationships. Improved relationships are important as an early intervention goal, and improved relationships with SELF and with other, are vital to healthy recovery from a wide variety of physical and mental health issues.
So how do we ensure that these well-evidenced ideas get to parents and professionals who need the knowledge? How do we get people talking about the issues that really matter if we are to see healthy change even at times of great social pressures?
An I Matter Action Research Project is an opportunity to explore this question in your setting. We may know what we want to achieve but actually getting there is not always that easy. In fact getting it can sometimes be very tricky indeed. But with trial and error there could be a way. In the I Matter Project we have done a lot of work on the presentation of key content and on delivery options: Key ideas are provided in online teaching and visual resources and the assessment tools promote discussions about outcomes. However, implementation is only implementation when it really happens. So we are interested in working with others to explore what is needed to make implementation a success.
Most importantly, there is not just one solution to promoting better relationships between children and adults and between school and parents. Some schools and services are already active in reaching out to parents, some do very little as yet. Some staff teams know a lot already, and some much less. Some families will need very little support for very little time - some need a lot more for a lot longer. Some families need group support and some families progress with 1:1 only.
The big advantage of being involved in an Action Research Project is that YOU start to observe and question these variations yourself and you as a team can invent your own local solutions.
You also start to build capacity so that you have people on your team and in your community who can take the project forward. if you would like to find out more why not Click Here
In the I Matter Project we have 3 training pathways: Parent-Child Coaching, Professional-Child Coaching and Professional-Parent-Child Coaching. Professional-Child Coaching is something that most professionals in schools and residential care settings do without thinking about it. Coaching involves guiding the child towards the understanding and skills that the professional knows will be useful and helpful to them in their lives.
I Matter Professional-Child Coaching has many similiarites. There are also 5 key differences:
i) In comparison to regular professional-child coaching I Matter Professional-Child Coaches start out by being intrroduced to a clear map or framework around child development, brain development and the adult role. This framework is designed to help them to understand and then decide what to coach and why. Caring for children especially complex children with social emotional difficulties can be very challenging with so many decisons to make. It really helps to have an explicit map that explains how lots of ideas fit together in the area of social-emotional development.
ii) Professionals who are learning about I Matter Coaching are provided with some easy to understand assessment tools. These easy to understand developmentally informed tools are designed to make it very clear what key skills are important and why and how they are linked. They are also designed to highlight when further assessment is needed.
iii) Due to the advanced training involved, I Matter Professional-Child Coaches find that they are much more aware of what is happening and have much greater understanding of what they are seeing during the everyday challenging incidents of life with the child in class or residential settings. This helps them to have clarity and focus in their role.
iv) I Matter Coaching places a very high emphasis on the role, skills and well-being of the adult coach themselves. The special thing about this approach is that it is very clear from the outset that in order to be effective and appealing you have to do the work that supports your own well-being first! Blaming others doesn't get you to where you want to go.
v) I Matter Professional-Child Coaching provides professionals with a framework for a longer-term approach founded on strengthening the security and effectiveness of the adult-child attachment relationship at home and at school in the support of promoting social emotional development. This approach aims to join together other learning that parents and professionals access in other places.
vi) I Matter Professional Child Coaching is relevant for all children of any age where there is a concern to support social-emotional development. Children may be very typical, or they may present with some complex challenges. They may have a formal diagnosis of ASD or ADHD or ODD or something else, or they may have no clear diagnosis. This is a framework that focusses on primarily on the adults undesstanding and skiills.
I Matter Professional-Child Coach training is based on a 3 step process of learning the framework, understanding the tools, and on learning how to work for results.
I developed I Matter Professional-Child Coach training because of my concern based on years of professional practice. My concern is that we have large numbers of children in school and residential settings who have not mastered the foundations of social-emotional development. More seriously and more significantly, in spite of an industry dedicated to assessment of children these social emotional gaps are being systematically missed even in our most vulnerable children.
Failure to see the extent of the gaps means that many children are spending large portions of their day in schools on curriculum based activity that are missing the point and missing the extent of the real underlying difficulties. If you invest in professional-child coach training you will gain staff on your team who will be able to help you start to recognise these gaps more systematically. Be warned however: You may be shocked at what this will show.
If you would like to learn more take a look at our courses
I Matter Training aims to bring lots of complex ideas into a practical useable whole for those who live or work with complex children. One critically important idea that gets glossed over repeatedly in our educational and mental health practices is the issue of child development.
Children develop. The brain develops. Child brain development is impacted massively by experience as well as by genetics. However child development can be a very trusted guide if you are living or working with complex children.
What may shock you is that when you start to look at the challenges that your child is facing through the lens of child development is that i) your child may have some very significant gaps in their social development ii) YOU have a very important role to play that cannot be replaced by any distant expert.
There are a few interventions in the area of children with complex needs that take a developmental approach but not nearly enough. A much greater understanding of child social-emotional development needs to be embedded into our educational systems not as an added after thought but as central to the way in which we think and plan provision.
Social competence is one of the key factors in predicting a young person's success in work and adult relationships but we scoot over the fundamental skills involved and hope for the best.
If you are living or working with a complex child, you need to make sure you gain a much greater understanding of how development proceeds and your role in it!
Fortunately, it is really fascinating and helpful stuff!
So what is I Matter Training? I Matter Training is intended to provide you with a way of bringing a lot of complex ideas together into a useable and practical whole so that you can be more confident about how to help yourself and your complex child.
I Matter is built on 3 core foundations. Foundation 1 is a reminder that if you want to see positive change - you have to be willing to take some personal responsibility and you have to be willing to grow and change yourself.
Foundation 2 of I Matter is a reminder that if you want to help a complex child, you have to be willing to work with others. Working with others in partnership could be referring to your home-based relationships, with your child's other parent or grandparents for example. It also refers to the relationships you make with people at your child's school or in the community.
Your ability to build good relationships and your ability to motivate them to want to work with you, will be a key factor in your ability to help your child. No one can work completely alone with complex children. You will need support. Your child will need support.
Your relationship skills can get stronger and as they do, you will be acting as a fantastic role model to your child and others about what good working relationships look like and about the effort and rewards involved.
Relationships take time and work! Have you noticed that to help your child, you must lead the way!
So what is I Matter Training? It is a psycho-educational project intended to provide you with a map that will support you in becoming more of an expert on the mental health or behaviour challenges you or your child are experiencing. I Matter training brings together complex ideas into a useable practical form so that you can decide which are important and relevant to you right now.
I Matter is not a therapy - but if you use it to guide your choices and decision making it will have therapeutic outcomes for you and for your child.
I Matter has three Foundations: Foundation 1: Personal Responsibility and Willingness to Grow emphasises that if you want to help a complex child, your skills and understanding matter. What you want matters. What you are willing to work for in your home or community setting matters.
We can spend a lot of time looking around for someone else who is going to take action to make a difference. The fact is, if you care about these things, YOU must take action.
Be warned: I Matter can take you on what can be a powerful and challenging journey!
Look out for more information about Foundations 2 and 3 of I Matter Training.
Dr Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin
The I Matter Prof Blog:
How do we improve the educational and mental health outcomes of our children?
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