The fourth reason I decided to develop this training was that as I studied all the research, it became very very clear that there were so many different approaches or models but to me, many of them were missing a key and fundamental issue, or adding it as an afterthought.
How many can you list yourself? Here are a few: Behavioural approaches, Cognitive-Behavioural approaches, Play therapy, Family Therapies, Psycho-dynamic or Person-centred counselling, Solution-Focussed approches, Webster-Stratton Training, Solihull Approach, Narrative Therapies, Dyadic Developmental and Attachment Focussed Approaches. You may have come across ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis), Theraplay or Relationship Developmental Intervention or the Nurtured Heart Approach. There is some wonderful work going on, but what a confusing picture! I have often seen desperate parents and professionals floundering around trying to find 'something' - 'anything' that could be tried.
Yet something key that is often missing from my point of view is i) the clear understanding of the brain and the way it develops and functions and ii) the very close link between adult well-being and child well-being. Unfortunately this link is often not well reflected in the way our mental health services are organised or delivered, nor in the way professionals and parents are expected to work
In fact, I chose the title The Adult-Child Well-Being 'I Matter' Project because when it comes to working with children with complex social-emotional challenges, not only are adult well-being and child well-being closely linked, but ADULTS have more responsibility than children - a truth that too often seems to be neglected. For children to develop into mature adults, they have to have mature adult role models who can think and imagine and see the world as the child may be experiencing it. It is not possible otherwise for this positive emotional development to proceed. So, though there is no getting away from the fact that all of the research evidence suggests that parenting skills are hugely important for children's long-term outcomes on a wide variety of indicators, children with complex needs, need ideally to have parents and carers and teachers with advanced parenting and caring and teaching skills.
One of the key skills for an adult who cares for complex children. is the ability to care for themselves. Self-care enables adults to remain effective in tuning into children when in challenging times. This is good news really. Parenting and caring and teaching is very hard work, but fortunately, good long-term outcomes clearly depend upon the emotional well-being of child and adult being given a top priority.
The fifth reason I decided to develop I Matter Training was that as I teacher I knew that outcomes in the area of child and adult mental health are improved by understanding. More on that in my next blog.
Dr Cathy Betoin
Dr Cathy Betoin
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