I came to the Accreditation Module in Autumn 2021 some 3 years after I had completed my Advanced Level training and Certification in NVR practice through PartnershipProjects. I loved NVR and had been privileged in the preceding 7 years to journey from the Foundation Level, with my two colleagues in the Leeds Adoption Support team, through to the Advanced Certification level.
Together, in those early days, the three of us grew our passion, knowledge and confidence in the NVR principles and practised this with the multi-challenged families in our Adoption Support Service. We worked individually with families and progressed to develop a 12-week parent coaching group with the families struggling with high levels of violence and control from their children and young people.
I remember how much we talked and explored all our thoughts, ideas, and NVR practices. We made mistakes and offered continued support to each other and the families we worked with, to resist such challenges. The changes they experienced within their relationships were remarkable.
We were determined to bring NVR into our whole agency, to develop and grow NVR in our service, as we had continued to grow ourselves, individually and with families. We facilitated parent coaching groups and parent top-up groups that were humbling to be a part of and incredible to witness these parents’ struggles and battles.
Within a couple of years, we commissioned PartnershipProjects agency-based NVR training, for every adoption support worker, and from there we grew a tribe with a shared language in our service. We embedded our NVR practice with peer supervision, a safe space for workers to bring the difficulties they had encountered, the setbacks experienced and their sparkling moments; we had weekly NVR drop-ins for workers so they knew they had a space to come with their NVR dilemmas; We had development days across the region to focus on some NVR core principles and spread the enthusiasm and build confidence; we set up NVR forums for meeting up with professionals in other agencies such as CAMHS, fostering, therapeutic social work teams and individual practitioners; we recruited a group of parent ambassadors who came along to parent group coaching and shared their stories and were able to buddy up with new NVR parents.
Having specific, external NVR clinical supervision was also essential to our growth and utilisation of the NVR methods.
In July 2021, I had a conversation with my NVR mentor and supervisor and during this conversation, I felt that embodied excitement that NVR discussions always gave me. This was significant because by the summer of 2021 we all had been working within the context of a pandemic and had experienced changes and demands on our ways of working that were impacting us professionally and personally.
During our conversation, she reflected on the sense of achievement I had previously felt in taking NVR actions in my everyday life and with colleagues and parents, and the journey I had travelled, and I felt a renewed verve and motivation and energy. Noticing, these feelings I realised that perhaps the stuckness I was experiencing, needed some attention and redirection, so I decided to follow the spark. I asked myself what it might feel like to act for myself, to reconnect with and grow that spark of passion again and use it to feel a sense of value and agency. I decided it was time to value myself and invest in my own development and learning. So, I booked onto the PartnershipProjects Accreditation Module. The final stage of my NVR training. After completing the Accreditation Module, I would become an Accredited NVR Practitioner with The NVR Association (NVRA).
Initially, I found the idea of presenting my work quite daunting. I questioned if my experience in NVR was good enough. I was aware of my feelings and knew that I was “stepping out of my comfort zone”. The Accreditation Module was incredible for my confidence. It was a reflective 10-week journey with a positive focus, full of inspiring conversations, new ideas and a deep and rich experience, witnessing my own and others’ practice and adaptations of NVR in the wider systems.
Each week 9 of us met together online, along with our 2 facilitators Rachael Aylmer and Shila Desai. Each participant had a different NVR journey, a different story, new ideas, affirmations, and appreciation, and we gave each other encouragement. We came from different working contexts; – CAMHS, systemic family therapy; young people’s residential; education and adoption support.
There was a commitment to meet weekly for 3 hours and each week one of us would present a piece of NVR work / practice to our colleagues. Using reflective teams, we were able to be curious about each other’s NVR journeys. It was inspiring to witness and appreciate the hopes, possibilities, and adaptations of other peers’ utilisation of the principles in their approaches. There was in fact some incredible storytelling that inspired and awed me. There were personal reflections that were both humbling and courageous.
I learnt so much from the participants, about ways to utilise NVR in areas of work I had not worked in. I heard different perspectives which deepened my knowledge and connections to the NVR principles, this inspired me to read more and refresh my ideas and try new adaptions.
My own presentation charted my NVR journey in the individual work I undertook with multi-stressed families. I reflected on parental suffering, erasure and ways in which parents build alliances with each other. This was a transformative part of the approach for them. I recognised as an Adoption Service, that we were establishing regular parent support through the NVR coaching groups which were delivered on a hybrid model within a regional adoption agency, I was mindful of how the service could continue to develop a model of NVR that would hopefully be sustainable.
After attending the Accreditation Module, I applied for a permanent job with PartnershipProjects as a Key Trainer and Accredited NVR Practitioner.
This was a leap of faith, kickstarting a change in my working life. Yes, the journey has challenged me, and I reflect on how my journey mirrors what we ask parents to embrace when they endeavour to change their responses and relationships with the harmful behaviours in their families (but that’s a whole other blog!). Ultimately the AM led me to a career and life immersed in NVR – happy days!
By Sarah Ryan
Key Trainer & NVRA Accredited Practitioner