The emotional and behavioural challenges of adoptive parenting – Sophie Ashton

Ashton_Secrets-of-Succ_978-1-78592-078-3_colourjpg-printIn this article Sophie Ashton, author of The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting, talks reassuringly about the emotional challenges of adopting a child. She discusses how it is perfectly normal to feel emotionally overwhelmed soon after your child moves in, how the process of successfully integrating them into your family does not simply happen overnight, but that in the long term adopting can be a wholly rewarding experience that brings ‘joy, hope and fulfillment’.  The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting is an honest and reassuring account of what it can really be like to be an adoptive parent.  It prepares you for the highs and lows of being an adoptive parent and provides practical advice to give your child and your family the best chance to flourish.

It is quite common for adopters to feel emotionally overwhelmed soon after their child moves in

In the early weeks post-placement many adopters feel a mix of emotions in response to their child.  For some adoptive parents the challenging and negative emotions seem more prevalent than the positive ones, and can on occasion lead to them starting to question their reasons for wanting to adopt.  Sometimes these challenging emotions can put the adoption placement at risk of breaking down.  I know this – because it almost happened to us.

After four years in the adoption process we were very ready for the arrival of our daughter. Although emotionally exhausting, the eight-day introduction period went well.  We warmed to her – she warmed to us; she and our birth son seemed to get on well.  We were all beyond excited when she moved in – we adored her.  Happy days!  Our dream of a perfect family was coming true!  Continue reading

Read an extract from Margaret Rooke’s Creative, Successful, Dyslexic – out now in paperback

Rooke_Creative-Succes_978-1-84905-653-3_colourjpg-printEntertainer, actor and singer Brian Conley reveals the difficulties that dyslexia presented him with at school growing up, and how he channelled his dyslexia to work out what he was good at. Harnessing the ‘visual’ way of thinking that comes with it, he now looks on his dyslexia ‘as a total gift’.

>>Click here to download the extract<<

Creative, Successful, Dyslexic is a collection of first-person stories from 23 very well-known people with dyslexia from the arts, sport, and business worlds. All reveal the enormous difficulties they faced, the strength required to overcome them, the crucial importance of adult support, and how ‘the different way the brain is wired’ in dyslexia has enabled them to see something different in the world and to use their creativity in an exceptional way. They talk about ‘thinking sideways’, and the ability to look at a bigger picture, the often strong visual strength, and the ability to listen, and to grasp simplicity where other people see only complexity. They also talk about how dyslexia continues to challenge them, and the ways they have found to work around this.

Darcey Bussell CBE, Eddie Izzard, Sir Richard Branson, Meg Mathews, Zoe Wanamaker CBE, Richard Rogers, Benjamin Zephaniah, Steven Naismith, Lynda La Plante CBE, Sir Jackie Stewart OBE, Sophie Conran and others share their stories, and their advice. A percentage of profit from the book is donated to Dyslexia Action.

>>Click here to find out more about the book<<

Secret, secret – keep or tell?

In a child’s mind, keeping secrets can be exciting, as well as a huge burden. It may not always be clear to them what’s a good secret; what’s a not so good secret; and what’s definitely not to be kept a secret. In her new book, Secret, Secret, Daisy Law explores the different types of secrets children may have, and encourages them to feel confident to share their secrets. In this blog post, Daisy explains why she believes this is an important lesson that children must learn.

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I wrote Secret, Secret to be one possible simple solution to a range of really complex problems affecting the safety and wellbeing of children. Most social workers, teachers and people in the caring professions would advocate early intervention wherever there is abuse or neglect blighting a child’s life, but unfortunately it can take many years for individuals to speak up and access the help available.

It seemed to me that kids needed a kind of mantra which might help them find their own voice and be heard. The dynamics of an abuser’s use of coercion, threats and control often prevents children disclosing harm they’re suffering. If the abuser is a family member, then they usually set the tone of what’s ‘normal’ or acceptable and the child is powerless to even know that what’s being done to them is wrong. So I set myself the task of writing something which could help children map their own feelings about anything they felt forced to keep secret.

low-res-coh-secretFun had to be first on the agenda, to engage children in a story. I felt that rhyme would help the message bounce along, and it also helps kids remember the words even when they don’t have the book in front of them. This was especially important for pre-schoolers and non-readers. I worked as a teacher for many years and tried to think about the literacy aspects which would mean teachers could use Secret, Secret for group reading or other aspects of school and nursery curriculums, so that children have the message reinforced. I also knew how difficult it can be covering safeguarding issues within PHSE or circle time, so I used open-ended questions to close the book. This invites a response from anyone reading or listening.

 

As much as we may all want to end abuse, we don’t want to rob anyone of their innocence. Bearing this in mind, I wanted the text and illustrations to make subtle references to the kinds of fears, anxieties and experiences which some children might have. Trauma alters your thinking processes and makes your body feel different, so I filtered all my professional understanding of psychological and physiological responses to focus on the notion of ‘stone-cold’ insides.

I also sought to create an almost real world – similar but not quite this world, so that children could enjoy a safe level of removal. The toys, or Dust Bunnies, Lilac and Little Blue were key for this. Kids know how to talk to a toy, and there’s often a freedom in telling your darkest secrets to an imaginary friend. The threat of the faceless pirate can be a game, or it can represent how menacing adults can be to a child living in fear. Along with a bit of light relief fart humour with a whoopee cushion, this means that children can interpret and rationalise both the text and illustrations to fit their own life. So bottoms, beds, closed doors, fear, guilt, shame, and threat all feature subtly and can communicate to the subconscious, but happiness, joy, adventure, wonder, achievement and pride are there too. Parents who may be less confident discussing the potentially tricky area of disclosure can also help their children think about whether to ‘keep or tell’ secrets. This makes Secret, Secret a lovely bedtime read – especially as kids like to join in with the rhymes.

The illustrations were all hand carved in lino and then hand printelow-res-bew-secretd and coloured. I wanted to create a ‘folk art’ style set of strong images which might not date too readily. The magpies allude to the old folk rhyme and allow another way of thinking about how children might be bullied into believing some secrets are ‘never to be told’. Magpies are noisy too – they have found their voice. A whole year goes by from the stark bare trees and closed doors of the first page, to the warm embrace of acceptance at the end – with the snowdrops as a symbol of hope even in the depths of winter.

My hope is for kids to find their voice and a sense of hope from Secret, Secret so that it’s an important step on their journey.

Daisy Law has over 17 years’ experience as a teacher of English and literacy. As a teacher, she has been trained in safeguarding and understands the importance of children being able to disclose secrets. She lives in France with her children, who teach her about being young, happy and full of enthusiasm for exploring the world.

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Secret, Secret

£9.99

 

Available now!

 

Ten Things I Have Learnt as a Sex and Relationship Therapist – by Juliet Grayson

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We spoke to the author of ‘Landscapes of the Heart‘, Juliet Grayson, about what she has learnt in her years as a couples therapist. She shares ten fascinating insights below.

For more information on the book, or to buy your own copy, just follow this link!

Here are ten things that I have learnt as a sex and relationship therapist.  I’m in the very privileged position, as a couples therapist, to get a real insight into the lives of other people.  I probably know some aspects of my clients better than anyone else.  I also get an amazing view of how people think about sex and relationships.  When I see people for a session on their own, there is no point in them lying.  They share how they really think about intimacy, lovemaking and their partner.

1) Men and women really do have different attitudes to sex.  Of course this is a generalisation, but many men have told me that for them sex is largely a recreational activity.  And yet for the majority of women there needs to be an emotional component for sex to be really satisfying.  I am struck over and over again by how differently we think about sex.  One of my male clients said to me, “Having sex is like having a cup of tea with someone.”  Not many of my female clients would agree with this!

2) Relationship challenges will hit every couple at some point.  Even the couples who look like they are very much together and in love will go through tough times.  As David Schnarch said, “Relationships are people-growing machines.”  In other words they offer us the opportunity to develop into emotionally mature adults who can thrive effectively in the world.

3) Being with my clients and seeing their struggles can act as a mirror for me.  Sometimes a client might say “I hate it when my wife tries to tell me what to do.”  On the inside, a little voice says to me, ‘You do that to your husband Juliet!  And he hates it too.’   So being with my clients provides frequent reminders of the importance of prioritising my relationship, and giving both the relationship and my husband, the attention that they deserve.

4)  I’ve had clients who are worried about their low level of sexual desire.  This may not be a problem if both partners have a similar low level of desire.  Then, their main challenge is to accept that their relationship is working really well for them.  They may have to adjust to the fact that they have less sexual contact than their friends.  But if they’re both genuinely happy with that, fantastic!  They can be affectionate, and are lucky to have found another person with a similar level of sexual drive.

5) Most people don’t realise how much their childhood impacts their thoughts feelings and reactions as an adult.  Training as a couple therapist, and as a Pesso Boyden System Psychotherapist (PBSP) has really made me see how many of the problems we experience as adults will have their root in our experiences as children.  For example, the man who felt controlled by his wife realised that his mother had been controlling.  The woman who found herself being compliant with her husband, apparently agreeing with him when in truth she disagreed but daren’t tell him, had been trained to behave in this way by her aggressive father.  Helping people to see the root of their behaviour, and give them a different experience in a PBSP session, completely changes how they react in their adult relationship. Pesso Boyden System Psychotherapy is the most effective method I have found for this.  After their PBSP session, a client will tell me, “Things that I perceived as problematic before, no longer have the same heat.  I can see now that it is okay for him to do that.  In fact it is normal.  I no longer overreact!  Which is such a relief to both of us.”

6) There is another way that childhood experiences will affect some of us.  A lack of good parenting can create a longing for something in the adult, that we should have experienced as a child.  It’s common for people in the romantic phase of a new relationship to imagine that their partner will give them the love, approval, support and/or protection that they should have had as a child.  We may meet our new partner and think, “This is it.  He (or she) really understands what I need, and is willing to give it to me.”  It’s incredibly exciting.  However, the new boyfriend or girlfriend doesn’t sustain this.  This is because (according to PBSP) this need has to be met at the right age, the age of the original wounding.  This means that my boyfriend in the ‘here and now’, can never fully fill the hole that was created by my father in the ‘there and then’ of my childhood.  In the blissful stage of a new relationship they are willing to try, and initially it seems to work.  But after a while both parties realise that it isn’t sustainable.  As the needy one demands more, the giver feel drained, and starts to give less.  The needy one becomes even more demanding, and the giver feels they have to withdraw further.  They are now in a vicious circle that can never be satisfied.  The only way I know to heal this is using Pesso Boyden System Psychotherapy, which uses group members to role-play symbolic figures (an Ideal Mother or an Ideal Father) who can say, “If I’d been there when you were six, as your Ideal Father, I would have loved you, accepted you, supported you and/or protected you in just the way that you needed.”  When this message is delivered in the right way in a client session it can be amazingly effective at filling the hole that was left by the lack in childhood.  It works because the message is being sent to the person at the right age (when the client was six-years-old).

7) I always say to people in a new relationship, “Don’t do anything in the first thirty days that you’re not willing to do for the next thirty years.”  Many of us are too generous in the early phase of a relationship, when we want to impress the other person, and are willing to put ourselves out.  We set unrealistic expectations in our partner, only to disappoint them later.

8) Our behaviour is ahead of our values.  Most people have a set of values which they intend to honour, yet few of us manage this.  It might be that I have a value on honesty, but I find myself lying.  It might be that I have a value on generosity, and yet I am mean.  It might be that I have a value on connection, and yet I withdraw.  Over and over again I see people failing to live up to the values they aspire to, not managing to behave in ways that they want to.

9) It’s really important to make the distinction between identity and behaviour.  Who I am, my identity, is a core part of me.  What I do, my behaviour, is what other people see.  Behaviour is at a more superficial level than identity.  In our culture we often confuse the two.  We might say to a little girl who has stolen some chocolate, “You are a naughty girl.”  It would be better to say, “That was a naughty thing you did.”  In the same way, when someone criticises us it is wise to focus on the behaviour that needs changing, rather than taking the comment at the level of identity.  For example, if I’m accused of being lazy (identity), I’ll benefit from thinking about what I need to do differently (behaviour) to avoid the “lazy” label. It is easier to change my behaviour, what I do, than my identity, who I am!

10) Through all the therapy and all the client work that I’ve done, I would say that the most important thing I have learnt is the power of self acceptance.  Until we can really love and accept ourselves, it’s very hard to love and accept someone else.  Along with this, many people will benefit from being a little kinder to themselves.  The Pesso Boyden system has really helped me to do this.

Juliet Grayson is a UKCP registered psychotherapist, and author of Landscapes of the Heart: The working world of a sex and relationship therapist (Published April 2016).  £12.99 www.landscapesoftheheart.co.uk To find a therapist contact  www.TheJulietGraysonNetwork.org

For more information, or to buy the book, please follow the link.

Follow Juliet on Twitter at @CounsellorsCPD

 

Hearing Voices, Living Fully Launch Party

Claire Bien, Associate Director of Communications at The Connection, Inc. and trained facilitator at the Hearing Voices Network, shares her thoughts and a few fun snapshots from the launch party for her new book, Hearing Voices, Living Fully: Living with the Voices in My Head.

Bien 1“So grateful for all the friends, colleagues, and former colleagues who attended the wonderful book party hosted by the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health (PRCH) on Tuesday, June 28. A former colleague whom I haven’t seen in person for 20 years came thanks to the wonder of Facebook!

Special thanks to Professor Michael Rowe, co-director of PRCH, for organizing and emceeing the event; to Professor Larry Davidson, director of PRCH; forBien 3 speaking as well as for writing the beautiful Foreword to the book; to Dr. Selby Jacobs, former Director of the Connecticut Mental Health Center, for being my first and most important reader/mentor/friend; and to Howie Horvath for playing his guitar as people were gathering. I was thrilled that so many members of my family attended. Nearly 100 people were present and we sold all 51 books we had on hand!”

Hearing Voices, Living Fully is Bien’s fascinating personal perspective on an often-misunderstood condition. She explains how she managed to regain control over her mind and her life even while intermittently hearing voices, through bien 5self-guided and professional therapy and with the support of family and friends. Her tumultuous journey will help readers to understand why auditory hallucinations are not necessarily an indicator of mental illness. For more information on Claire’s new book, please visit our website: www.jkp.com.

FIXING A MAJOR GAP IN CLINICAL AND COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGY

Clinical and counseling psychology have, in many ways, become rather superficial 9781849057431over the past several decades. With their emphases on manualized treatment, homework assignments and structured approaches, modern clinical practitioners have lost a good deal of what made their predecessors helpful to many people. And what they lost is a solid, comprehensive understanding of human behavior and what leads humans to change. There just is not much emphasis these days on understanding human behavior from a number of different vantage points when the focus these days is only on getting patients in, doing a certain number of very structured steps and then getting them on their way.

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Explaining depression to children with Celeste

Liza Stevens, author and illustrator of Not Today, Celeste, shares her experience putting together this heartwarming story of a dog and her depressed human, which reflects some of the feelings and experiences that a child whose parent or carer has depression may face.
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An interview with Lisa Carne about home education and her new book ‘Natural Curiosity’

Carne_Natural-Curiosi_978-1-78592-033-2_colourjpg-printWe spoke to Lisa Carne about her experience of moving her two children from mainstream schooling to home education, and learning through the lens of nature and natural history. Lisa is the author of Natural Curiositya warm and contemplative book that touches upon important themes in education and environmentalism, including children’s rights in schooling, the use and place of technology in learning and the absence of the natural world in mainstream education.  It gives a considered, balanced view of home schooling interspersed with entertaining tales, and offers an understanding of how this type of education works and what inspires the choice to pursue it.  Continue reading

What does it mean to be highly sensitive?

Formerly a pastor for the little parish of Djursland in Denmark, Isle Sand is now a psychotherapist and, more particularly, an author. Having written and published Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World, she has put into words the difficulties and blessings that come with being highly sensitive.

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